For years divorce lawyers have cautioned clients about the dangers of using social media sites like Facebook to complain about their spouses. Although the reasons for those warnings should be obvious in our Web-centric society, not everybody is heeding the advice.
A new British study reports that Facebook played a role in more than 33 percent of divorces last year.
A U.K. law firm analyzed 5,000 divorce petitions from 2011 and found that the most common reason listed for a couples’ separation was inappropriate interactions with a member of the opposite sex on Facebook. This represents a significant increase from a previous survey in 2009, when Facebook was named as a factor in 1 in 5 divorce filings.
This is hardly an isolated phenomenon occurring only across the pond. In 2010, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that 81 percent of its members had cited social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn in divorce cases. Of those social media sites, two-thirds of lawyers surveyed said Facebook was the biggest source of information about indiscretions and other unsavory behavior by spouses in a divorce.
In this most recent U.K. survey, the most common reasons Facebook was named in the divorce filings were for activities such as:
- Inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex;
- Disgruntled spouses posting angry or hurtful comments about their ex on the site;
- Facebook friends reporting the inappropriate conduct to the other spouse.
If you are divorced or separated in North Carolina, it is important to refrain from using social media to air out your frustrations about your marriage. Setting aside the fact that trashing someone online is immature, electronic evidence is fair game in a divorce. That includes your status updates, wall posts, photos, messages and any other activities you engage in using social-networking sites. For example, a North Carolina woman recently accused her husband of bigamy. News reports noted that the man’s Facebook relationship status was listed as, “It’s complicated.”
Even if you remove the content quickly, there is still a chance that someone else has seen the information and shared it with someone else.
The advice is simple: Be respectful on social media sites. If it’s already too late, make sure you tell your North Carolina divorce lawyer right away in order to look for ways to mitigate the damage.