Social networking sites, in particular Facebook, are being blamed for an increasing number of marital breakdowns.
With over two billion users all over the world, instead of bringing people together, it is often in part responsible for having the opposite effect.
People are very easily able to contact old friends, schoolmates, ex-partners and old flames, with these connections sometimes leading to extra-marital relationships. And these liaisons have also become easier to discover, courtesy of Facebook.
Prior to online social networking, straying spouses may have been more discreet. On shared computers their chats can be monitored by suspecting husbands or wives. Wall posts can also be incriminating and are often reported by a “friend” within the network. There is no doubt Facebook has become a regular source of evidence.
It is no longer a surprise to find Facebook mentioned in divorce petitions, usually when citing their spouse’s “behaviour”.
Once divorce proceedings are eventually issued, the role of Facebook does not seem to end there. In some cases, a husband and wife although involved in an acrimonious divorce, remain Facebook friends. Although their marriage is in the process of ending, their every day lives remain in full view of each other. Even where they are not friends on Facebook, if an individual’s privacy settings are low, or they have public profiles, an aggrieved spouse and their solicitor are likely to look through this virtual window.
Compromising pictures on Facebook of a spouse with their new partner can assist the other party’s case, in particular when the spouse claims that they are not cohabiting. Some spouses who plead poverty when finances are being considered have a difficult time explaining how they managed to afford to go on a lavish holiday, as is evidenced by their tagged photos.
Profile pages and photo albums often assist building up a case, as do status updates and wall comments where contradictions are made to statements made within divorce proceedings.
It isn’t possible to say how significant a role Facebook plays in divorce rates, but what is in no doubt is that it has an increasingly integral role in divorce proceedings.