Unfriending your spouse? Marriages are growing casualty of Facebook.
A recent study points out what marriage experts and divorce attorneys have been saying for years: Facebook can be a factor in divorce. The study by Loyola Medicine shows that as many as one in five divorces cites Facebook as a factor in the divorce. Whether Facebook was the root cause or just a symptom of problems that already existed in the marriage, it clearly is playing a role in more divorce filings in Colorado and elsewhere.
Facebook has been heralded as a growing influence on society because it allows people to connect with new friends and others with their same interests virtually in an instant. It also allows people to re-connect with former classmates and old friends and flames. It’s this last category that seems to cause the most damage in a marriage. Out of curiosity or with less virtuous intentions, a husband or wife might spy on or friend an old boyfriend or girlfriend. If spouses begin to communicate privately with an ex, it may not bode well for the marriage.
Divorce lawyers have reported that their clients have brought in pages of printed Facebook communications as evidence of the other spouse’s betrayal or alienation in the marriage. Some family law attorneys have admitted to spying on the opposing party’s public Facebook profile, Twitter feed or other social media outlet for information about the other party’s activities outside of the courtroom. Online photo albums on Facebook or MySpace accounts have been a particular goldmine for divorcing spouses. Evidence of late night partying, salacious pictures of new girlfriends or boyfriends, or postings that contradict a court filing or allegation can blow open an acrimonious divorce or child custody battle.
While Facebook profile privacy settings can be set to prevent certain people from viewing a Facebook profile, they are not foul-proof. If any current Facebook “friends” allow a divorcing spouse access to the other spouse’s profile, then a privacy setting is useless. Some judges have even considered admitted evidence of Facebook postings or photos because allowing several dozen or hundred friends to view a Facebook profile or photo album means that it cannot be protected as a private or confidential communication in a marital dissolution or child custody action.
Are you contemplating a divorce or a difficult custody battle? Deactivating your Facebook profile may be your best course of action.
ABC 11: “Experts Say Facebook Can Cause Divorce,” 4 March 2011
The Law Center PC