Do Social Media Sites Increase Divorce?
Social media websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Photobucket and others are becoming the latest weapons in divorce and child-support battles. Private investigators searching for information on a client’s wayward spouse or ex-spouse are quickly catching on to the fact that the websites are often a quick and easy way to catch people doing things they don’t want others to know about.
Divorce and family law firms are increasing their reliance on information gathered from social media sites too, with 80 percent of the attorneys surveyed in a recent American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) study saying that they have seen an increase in the number of cases involving evidence gleaned from social media.
Attorneys and private investigators used to have to snoop around with cameras. Now days all they need to do is go online to find evidence on profile pages, wall comments, status updates, and photo files. Incriminating photos and other information from social media sites is usually not the image the opposing parent wanted to portray before a judge and the evidence can definitely affect alimony disputes and custody fights. A parent could easily lose custody, alimony, or both, due to inappropriate behavior exhibited online.
The most incriminating online evidence seems to be photographs, as they are often well worth the proverbial â€œthousand wordsâ€ when presented in court. Many attorneys use photos as leverage in negotiations more than as than in evidence submitted in court, but the result is usually the same, compromising photos will compromise a client’s position. In 2008, the Pew Study of Internet and American Life found that one in five adults questioned said they used online social networks to flirt with their connections, and the numbers have likely increased since then.
Jason Krafsky, author of â€œFacebook and Your Marriageâ€ says social media sites do not necessarily have to ruin marriages if both spouses will set boundaries for their use. Krafsky recommends that spouses share their user names and passwords and invite their partner to check out their â€œpagesâ€ anytime they want. He also recommends that couples do not befriend their ex’s and limit their total time online. In the end it is not the social media site that creates the problem, it is the user’s behavior.