Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law
As a Jacksonville, Florida divorce lawyer I have seen social networking, such as Facebook, impact marriages and divorces significantly more in the last couple of years. In a Florida divorce, fault does not have to be alleged in a petition for divorce because Florida is a no-fault state. No-fault divorce is basically that the reason for the divorce is not generally necessary to be evidenced to the court. However, such things as gambling, adultery and the like can be alleged to show why one party should be awarded more than the other. Also, such things as disparaging comments about spouse, photographs of excessive drinking in front of children and the like can be used when parents are fighting over children. These allegations can be difficult to prove, but with social networking it can be much easier. In a recent article, “Can Facebook Ruin Your Marriage?” the issue seems to be impacting a number of marriages and divorces. Social networking sites have been used for many reasons including rekindling old relationships, developing new relationships, and posting dirty laundry of the marriage to friends and the world via page postings and status updates.
According to, “Can Facebook Ruin Your Marriage?” the word, “Facebook,” appeared in 33 percent of the 5,0000 divorces filed in 2011 for “unreasonable behavior” in Britain. This shows an increase from the 20 percent reported from a similar survey in 2009, thus showing the popularity of the site and its impact on divorces increasing over a short period of time. In the British study, the most common reasons that Facebook was cited in the divorce petition are as follows:
1. “Inappropriate messages to the opposite sex.”
2. “Separated spouses posting nasty comments about each other.”
3. “Facebook friends reporting spouse’s behavior.”
Similar surveys and studies have been done in America as well, in a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed that of lawyers questioned, 81 percent reported that they also noticed an increase in the use of the social networking site in divorces in the last five years. Social networking has made it easier and more socially acceptable to share personal details about your life and as such, when going through emotional issues, such as marriage difficulties or a divorce, the posting of such emotions is as easy as posting your new status when you log in. According to Cleveland Clinic clinical psychologist, Scott Bea, Psy. D., “I think social media right now really draws on people giving too much information, and until they experience the consequence of that, it may be hard for some people to really pull back.”
Social networking sites, such as Facebook can come back to haunt a spouse in a divorce. Often the other spouse will actually print the comments made, make copies of photos posted, and take screen shots of a spouse’s page or a friend’s page showing communication about the other spouse. These can be used to show certain things in a divorce, including evidence of an affair (which in Florida may be valuable in showing marital funds were used in furtherance of a relationship), that one party is disparaging the other openly to the world, which can impact their children, that a spouse is harassing the other, and many other issues. The site can be used in all issues of the divorce, including how marital money has been used (i.e. extravagant purchases since separating); drinking or doing drugs with the kids in tow; and many other things.
If you are going through a divorce, using social networking to attack the other party may come back to hurt your case more than you think. An emotional posting or airing of dirty laundry may feel good at the time, but the ultimate consequence may not be worth it. Also, if you are not the one posting, but the one targeted then knowing how to react or not to react can be vital as well. If you are going through a divorce you should discuss these issues with an experienced divorce attorney to make certain that such issues are handled.