I have practiced law for many years and handled a multitude of divorces and one thing is for certain, each case is as unique as the individuals involved. Though the premise of divorce has remained the same, it has evolved with the times of which social media has had a very strong impact on the outcome of divorces and also cited as the reason for many divorces. Social media has certainly altered all aspects of a relationship from how we meet, fall in love and is, in many cases, the reason we divorce. In fact, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking recognized this as early as 2013 when they published a study investigating the relationship between the use of Facebook and negative interpersonal relationship outcomes. The survey was conducted with 205 Facebook users. The final analysis confirmed, “a high level of Facebook usage is associated with negative relationship outcomes, and that these relationships are indeed mediated by Facebook-related conflict.” This isn’t to single out Facebook, but at the time the survey was conducted this was one of the only and most well-known social media sites. In fact, the next year, they performed another study specifically aimed at Twitter to see if the use of this social network site had the same negative influences on interpersonal relationship outcomes. Much like Facebook, the results suggested that “active Twitter use leads to great amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce.” I think you get the picture here, any social media site being overly used or searching for something a relationship is lacking will cause a strain in any relationship.
Since those surveys were conducted, smartphone and social media app usages have risen exponentially. It has never been easier for spouses feeling dissatisfied in their marriages to look for a new relationship or seek out a fling.
In addition, to social media aiding in the demise of your relationship, it can also be used against a party to a divorce in court. Always remember that what happens on social media, doesn’t stay on social media. Most divorce attorneys (myself included) routinely cite information obtained from social media sites in divorce cases. What is “shared” online is also shared in the courtroom. Ways that social media can be used as evidence in a divorce case are:
The above are just a few common ways social media is used by divorce attorneys. If it is out there, we will find it and use it to improve our case. Of course, social media sites are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evidence. We have seen an increase in the use of text messages and emails as evidence in divorce cases.
If you find yourself on the verge of divorce, consult Kevin Hickey Law Partners before starting any divorce proceedings. Divorces can get tricky and very often evidence such as social media, screenshots of photos, text messages, emails or other recordings may be useful in your case. As your attorney, I would also advise you to be cautious about using social media to discuss your divorce, your soon-to-be ex or other issues relating to your divorce. These conversations can easily be forwarded to other parties, screenshot or even requested by the opposing attorney. If your divorce is particularly complex or nasty, it is possible that I will request you’re to suspend your social media accounts during the divorce process. If a suspension is not necessary, I always recommend that clients review and update privacy settings as well as change passwords. It is essential that you are well informed and have access to every resource available to get what you deserve.