Evidence or an innocent Facebook post? Social media and divorceFacebook, Twitter, Google Plus as evidence in a divorce trial? But it all seems so innocent. The fabulous ability to communicate and be up-to-the-very-second on the lives of all your friends and contacts. But -- as with any tool -- it can be used for good or evil. Good when it comes to matters of marriage can be using social media to strengthen our bonds with our partner by sharing not only sharing the days happenings with each other but giving yourself a boost by networking with a wide friend community on the comings and goings of your lives together. (Taken to the extreme, though, this can be saccharine sweet: "I love you to pieces, my darling wife" as a constant post on Twitter or Facebook can be enough to give your social network a collective toothache).
Evil can take a mild form: picture a Tom and Jerry-like cartoon where your Facebook friends/community are little cartoon characters that you summon up in your life on your shoulder every time you pick up your phone to check your status (and they start taking over your life and your time as a couple or family -- the minutes of status-checking easily turning into hours). Evil can take a serious form, too: You innocently reach out to an old flame and find yourself telling them things you'd never share with your wife or husband. The emotional intimacy growing.
Social networking as evidence in divorce trials
As this medium is only in its infancy, the connection of social networking to divorce is a new area for researchers and divorce attorneys. In the few years that social media has taken center stage in popular culture, though, it has been used repeatedly as evidence in divorce trials. Many American lawyers are reporting Facebook as a primary source of evidence in divorce trials. In fact, a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that four out of five lawyers reported using social networking sites -- most frequently Facebook -- in their evidence presented during divorce proceedings.
Though more time needs to pass for researchers to draw any clear conclusions from social media use and the dissolution of marriage, one thing is certain: people are spending more time on the social networking sites each year. A November 2011 Nielsen study showed that an average of over 319,000 people per month globally were spending over 6 hours on Facebook alone. Future research might study those hours versus the hours a person spends devoted to his marriage and draw interesting conclusions.
Texting and divorce - no LOL matter
And then there's texting. In a November 2011 poll by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), more than 90 percent of America's top divorce attorneys cited an increase in divorce trial evidence from iPhones and other smartphones in the past three years. Venting in a text message, in a Facebook post, or in an e-mail are all forms of writing -- even though they may seem immediate and disposable. The organization who conducted the poll cautions: don't write or send anything you wouldn't share with a judge because ultimately a judge can see all forms of written venting.
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Divorce in the traditional media