Social media and divorce sounds mutually exclusive. But they aren’t. On the contrary social media and relationships are deeply intertwined.
The article deep-dives into how social media affects relationships, social media and divorce rate and if the general opinion social media ruining marriages holds ground. Also, if you have a divorce case going on the article offers insights on the forms of social media-related evidence that could be a factor in your divorce case.
To understand why we mention social media and divorce in one breath, let’s look at our dependence on all things digital.
Digital devices are an inescapable part of modern life. While the phone in your pocket is a window to the world that can allow you to stay informed, interact with people who are important to you, and make your life easier, being constantly connected to social media can also have a downside.
For some, social media use grows into an addiction that can affect relationships with family and friends.
Whether social media leads to online affairs or becomes something that drives a wedge between spouses, it often plays a role in the breakdown of a marriage. That’s why it won’t be incorrect to say that social media can become a leading cause of divorce. That’s one insight on social media and divorce connection.
Social media could also be a major factor in your divorce
The influence social networks play in your life could extend beyond the end of your relationship, and social media could also be a major factor in your divorce.
When ending your marriage, you will want to be sure to understand the steps you can take to protect yourself from embarrassment and legal difficulties.
If your marriage is ending because of social media or other reasons, you should speak to a Kane County divorce attorney and discuss your legal options.
Here’s an in depth analysis of social media and divorce.
The use of social media has seen a huge increase over the past decade. According to Pew Research Center, 72% of adults use at least one social media site regularly.
This number is higher for younger age groups; 90% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 and 82% of adults aged 30-49 use social media.
The most popular social media apps are Facebook and Instagram, but sites such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest also see a great deal of use.
Social media affects people’s lives in a wide variety of ways, but studies have shown that 71% of social media users find that these sites and apps make them feel more connected with others.
However, 49% of people have reported that they see information on social media that makes them feel depressed, and for some, social media has been found to increase stress levels.
While these issues on their own may not contribute directly to the breakdown of a marriage, they could lead to a person becoming unhappy in their relationship, or they could affect other emotional or personal issues and increase the likelihood of divorce.
Social media may have a more direct involvement in marriage and divorce when it comes to jealousy and infidelity.
Studies have found that 19% of people stated that they became jealous due to their partners’ interactions with other people on Facebook, and 10% of people regularly looked at their partners’ profiles due to suspicions of infidelity. In addition, around 17% of people who use online dating apps do so with the intent of cheating on their spouse or partner.
When a marriage does break down, information posted on social media can increasingly become a factor in divorce proceedings. A survey of attorneys found that 33% of divorce cases result from online affairs, and 66% of cases involved evidence found on Facebook or other social networks.
Social media during divorce
Clearly, social media is an important part of many people’s lives, and whether it is directly involved in the end of a marriage or not, it can also play a huge role in a divorce case.
If you are considering divorce or are going through the divorce process, it is important to understand when and how you should use social media, and you should be aware of the forms of social media-related evidence that could be a factor in your divorce case. Also, it would be helpful to be aware of divorce etiquette.
Since social networks are public platforms, anything you post could potentially be viewed by your spouse and their attorney.
Even if you have taken steps to make sure messages are private, the people you communicate with could potentially share messages with your spouse or with others who could pass them along.
Information shared online can be found and used against you, and even deleted posts or messages may be saved as screenshots or uncovered in an archive.
Since your updates, photos, and other posts provide information about your life, anything you share could potentially be relevant when addressing divorce-related issues. Social media could affect your divorce in the following ways:
- Marital property division
During your divorce, you will be required to disclose information about your finances, including the income you earn and the property you own both together with your spouse and separately. Posts on social media could be used to dispute the information you have reported, and this could affect the decisions made about the division of marital property.
For example, if you post a photo on Instagram showing off an expensive watch or jewelry, your ex may claim that you did not disclose this property during your divorce.
If you expect to pay or receive spousal support (alimony) or child support, the amount of these payments will usually be based on the income earned by both you and your ex-spouse.
The information you share online could be used to question your claims about the income you earn or should be able to earn.
For example, if you have stated that a disability has reduced your income-earning capacity, your ex’s attorney may uncover photos you have shared in which you are enjoying outdoor activities, and these may be used as evidence to claim that you should be able to earn a higher income than you have reported.
Any information you post related to your career or your physical health could play a role in your divorce, and even something as innocuous as updating your job position on LinkedIn could affect decisions about financial support.
During a child custody dispute, courts will be looking at whether parents can cooperate in raising children. Social media posts in which you complain about your ex, call them names, or discuss details of your divorce could be used against you, especially if your children could potentially view this information.
If you and your spouse do not agree about how to divide or share custody of your children, your ex’s lawyer might look through your social media accounts to find evidence related to parental fitness, such as posts in which you have discussed alcohol or drug use.
Even photos of you at an after-work party posted by a coworker could potentially be used to claim that your habits and activities could put your children at risk of physical or emotional harm.
Even if adultery was the reason for your divorce, it may not necessarily play a role in the legal proceedings.
Most states allow for no-fault divorce in which a divorce petition will only need to state that the marriage broke down because of “irreconcilable differences,” and issues such as property division and alimony are often decided without considering “marital misconduct.”
However, some states use fault-based grounds for divorce or allow adultery to be considered when awarding spousal support. In these cases, evidence of infidelity gathered on social media could play a role in a divorce. In addition, decisions about the division of marital property may be affected by claims that a spouse has dissipated assets by spending marital funds on an affair.
If you have posted any information on social media about activities involving a new partner, such as mentioning a vacation the two of you are taking together, this may be used to claim that you have dissipated marital assets.
- Shared social media accounts
In some cases, both spouses will use the same accounts, or they may access each other’s accounts for various reasons, such as communicating with friends or family members.
During your divorce, you may agree to close any shared accounts, or you may decide that certain accounts will only be used by one spouse.
In cases where social media accounts have a monetary value, such as when a person or couple is an “influencer,” decisions about their ownership will be addressed during the division of marital property, and income earned through these accounts may affect the decisions made about spousal maintenance or child support.
Because of the ways information shared on social media can affect a divorce case, many attorneys recommend that you avoid using social media altogether while your divorce is ongoing.
Even if you believe that an update or photo is completely unrelated to your divorce, it could be interpreted in ways that you did not anticipate. In many cases, it is best to use other methods of communication with friends and family members until your divorce has been completed. Social media and divorce can get unbelievably messy.
Social media after divorce
Even after your divorce has been finalized, you may find that the use of social media could lead to legal issues. You will want to be aware of the following:
- Child-related issues – Depending on the decisions made in your parenting agreement, you may be required to follow certain rules about what types of photos or other information you are allowed to share about your children.
It is also a good idea to refrain from posting anything that could increase conflict between you and your ex or sharing information that could be used to call your parental fitness into question.
- Financial matters – Sharing any information about the income you earn could affect your ongoing support obligations. For example, if you discuss a promotion at work, your ex may ask that the amount of child support you pay be increased.
Similarly, if you receive spousal support payments, an update in which you describe moving in with a new partner could be used by your ex as evidence that these payments are no longer necessary and should be terminated.
- Harassment – One of the key concerns that many people face following divorce is determining the type of relationship they will maintain with their ex-spouse.
Even if you “unfriend” your ex and try to avoid any unnecessary contact with them, you may find that they are sharing inappropriate information about you or your divorce, or they may continue to send you messages or communicate with you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
If your ex commits any form of harassment using social media, you should speak to an attorney to determine how to address this, and you may also want to contact law enforcement.
Using social media the right way during and after divorce
Although the relationship between social media and divorce is complicated, there are potential drawbacks to social media, it can also provide many benefits, including allowing you to remain close with friends and family members and connect with others who understand what you are going through.
As you proceed with the divorce process, your attorney can help you understand how you should and should not use social media, and they can help you determine when you may be able to use social media evidence during your case.
Once your divorce is complete, you will want to establish clear rules and boundaries for how you and your ex will use social media. If any concerns arise that affect your children, your finances, or your safety, your lawyer can help you determine your best options for reaching a successful conclusion to your case.