Divorce and Social Media:
SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIVORCE
The Internet has brought about many changes to modern society. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media and professional networking websites and smartphone applications have become an important part of how people interact in today’s culture. They’re fun and useful, and these days, they’re second nature to many of us.
When something happens in our lives, we post about it to let our friends know. When something happens in our careers, we update our profiles to enhance professional connections.
We’re sharing personal and professional news, triumphs and tragedies, laughs and tears . . . . and lots and lots of pictures.
Unfortunately, though, we sometimes do this without thinking through all the potential consequences, not every “friend” is a friend. Not every connection is an ally. And many times, a message you thought was private turns out to be anything but.
Divorce and Social Media - Is there a Correlation?
A study found a correlation between social media use and divorce rates in the United States. The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior by researchers from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Boston University, found that social media might be to blame for troubled marriages, but it needed to be proven in subsequent studies.
People now have an easy way to communicate with family and friends. They also have found a new way to connect with old flames or “casually” meet someone new. Many people use these sites simply to “window shop” or flirt, not believing that it will lead to something more intimate.
Divorce rates have increased by nearly 20 percent over the last ten years due to social web site use. People, male and female, find these sites as a great way to search for long lost loves, or to browse. Sadly, many of these people believe that this casual browsing and contact is not cheating because it is done on the Internet.
The truth is, many of these casual affairs lead to something stronger, and when the spouse finds out about the relationship, the result is often divorce. A spouse does not view social interactions on a website as casual friendship; they view it as a breach of trust.
Overall, the increase in divorce rates from the use of social media has been significant enough that many different social agencies have taken notice. Therapists are trained how to help couples that have been affected by social media affairs and attorneys are being taught how to present this type of evidence in court. At this time, it is believed that this will be an upward trend, at least for the next decade.
Divorce and Social Media - Be Very Careful
Whether you are just beginning to toy with the idea of serving your spouse divorce papers or you are already deep in the throes of the litigation process, your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or whatever other online platforms you so choose to share the details of your private life may cause trouble during your litigation proceedings.
Not only can social networks and digital communications contribute to the breakup of a marriage, they can have unforeseen consequences in divorce settlement negotiations, as well.
Posts on sites such as Facebook, whether photos or comments, are increasingly being used by a soon-to-be-ex-spouse during divorce in various ways that can impact divorce and related issues. These posts can be used as evidence to gain the edge in financial negotiations and decisions regarding the children, demonstrate flaws in character, or as proof of acts of infidelity or other behaviors central to the breakdown of the relationship. And also central to decisions regarding children and financial arrangements.
In addition to activity on social media and networking websites, emails and texts – the routine ways we communicate today – can sometimes be subpoenaed and gone through with a fine-tooth comb. Lying on financial documents is a crime, and social media, email and text messages provide a potentially huge trail of evidence that can be hard to explain away. In divorce, both parties have a responsibility to provide full and frank disclosure, so make sure your social media isn’t telling a different tale from the one you’re telling in court.
Think of Social Media Activity As Both Public and Permanent
In general, you should think of social media activity as both public and permanent. Even if you’ve deleted or hidden previous posts or photos, it is possible that someone has taken a screenshot of your page while they existed or were public, or that a cached version is still retrievable through a search engine. Even Snapchat, a picture-sharing app that’s popular because pictures shared through it “disappear” after a few hours, is vulnerable to a quick screen shot by the photo’s recipient.
Determining a fair financial agreement during divorce is an essential factor in allowing both parties to maintain independence and move on from the relationship. When you split with your partner, you may be tempted to take a holiday, treat yourself or engage in retail therapy, all of which are perfectly acceptable (and often successful) coping mechanism after a breakup.
However, be careful what you post to social media as they may be factored into any discussions regarding finances. If you’re asking for over 50% settlement because your wage is low but you’re posting pictures of yourself on holiday abroad with a new (wealthier) partner it could give your ex the evidence needed to contest your claims.
In divorce, emotions run extremely high, and this applies not only in face-to-face interactions, but on social media as well. Therefore, always try to maintain your composure and not get caught up in the moment, as anything you say publicly on Facebook is impossible to take back and could well follow you throughout the divorce.
Conversations can be saved and screenshot and while you may not have meant what you said in the heat of the moment, they can be used to show you in a bad light. Avoid aggressive, abusive language and definitely avoid making any threats, physical or otherwise. As is true in all situations Think Before You Post or Comment. You will be happier later.
Please let us know how Kimberly Surber Divorce Planning can support you through your divorce process and beyond. Kim is easily reached by phone at 951-290-5026 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This information is not intended to be a substitute for seeking legal advice from an attorney. For legal or tax advice please seek the services of a qualified attorney and/or qualified tax professional.