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Social media may allow us to track down old friends again. But it has also become an increasingly significant factor in divorces.
This may not come as news to many divorce attorneys. Every year more of them are using information from sites such as Facebook in divorce proceedings.
A recent study from the United Kingdom website Divorce-Online found Facebook to be a driving force behind about a third of divorces in which unreasonable behavior was a factor.
Facebook typically is causing relationship problems where a spouse finds flirty messages, photos of their partner at a party they did not know about or with someone they should not have been with. This suggests Facebook may be playing a part in exposing behavior that would not otherwise have been known about, but there’s also evidence the site is fostering illicit connections.
Family lawyers have been seeing the nefarious influence of social networking sites on relationships for some time. Emma Patel, the head of family law at Hart Scales & Hodges Solicitors, in the United Kingdom told the Daily Telegraph, Facebook acted like a “virtual third party” in splits.
“Facebook is being blamed for an increasing number of marital breakdowns, and it is quite remarkable that all the petitions that I have seen here since May have cited Facebook one way or another,” Patel said in a Jan, 2011 article.
The extent to which some spouses will use Facebook to cheat was highlighted in an article in on Missouri’s ky3.com site.
Dana Williams of Springfield, MO believed she had a good marriage.
“She and her husband had been together for eight years when she was faced with a gut-wrenching reality online. She said her friend showed her pictures of her husband with another woman on Facebook.com,” the channel reported.
“And it was him saying he was so happy. He had his three month anniversary with this girl,” said Williams.
Williams said her husband even set up a secret Facebook account with a profile picture that showed him with another woman.
“People need to be careful what they write on their walls, as the courts are seeing these posts being used in financial disputes and children cases as evidence,” Mark Keenan, a spokesman for Divorce-Online, said.
Users of social networks often make the mistake of assuming the information they put on those sites is private. In fact, information posted on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or any other network can be used in divorce proceedings.