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Woman granted new divorce case after judge tries to be 'friends'

Illinois couples who are divorcing should never underestimate the importance of having an experienced attorney at their side. Even in the friendliest divorces, the unexpected can happen and you may well need good legal advice and support. An unusual case from Florida demonstrates the unpredictability of divorce proceedings.

An appeals court in the Sunshine State recently granted a woman's request for new divorce proceedings after improper behavior from the judge. It all began with a "friend" request on Facebook. About midway through the case, the judge attempted to "friend" the wife. At the risk of offending the judge, the woman, concerned that such communication via social media with the judge was inappropriate, declined the request. Indeed, judges are required to disclose any type of relationship with the people involved in any case they oversee. According to the woman, the judge retaliated against her for the Facebook snub by granting "excessive alimony" to her estranged husband.

One legal analyst pointed out that if a judge "friends" a person on Facebook, he or she may well gain access to information about the person that is not presented in court. Such "independent investigation" is inappropriate.

This is not the first time the judge has used Facebook to reach out to people in her courtroom. According to the woman's attorney, the judge previously communicated with another woman whose divorce case she was presiding over. The judge is now the subject of a formal complaint.

While this may seem like an abnormal circumstance, one can never know what is going to happen during any divorce or other legal proceeding. Experienced legal professionals can advise people on the best course of action when something unforeseen or inappropriate happens, and they can help ensure that their clients' rights and interests are protected.

Source: First Coast News, "Judge faces complaint over Facebook friend request" No author given, Jan. 31, 2014

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