Social media is transforming how we manage relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and even our ex-spouses. The pervasiveness of Facebook, in particular, has led to implications that extend well beyond the digital realm, as evidenced by its growing relevance in major life events such as divorce—and we don’t just mean updating your relationship status. A survey of caseloads at UK law firms says Facebook is currently cited as evidence in one third of all British divorce cases.
Leeds law firm Lake Legal reviewed 200 divorce filings and found that 66 of the cases had named Facebook activity as proof of marital misbehavior. The most common citations of social media in these divorces involved reconnecting with an ex-lover.
Managing partner of Lake Legal Lyn Ayrton explains that Facebook can be used to uncover insight about a client’s personal life that may be used as evidence in a courtroom: “Social media provides an ongoing log of our lives. The sharing of written posts and pictures, often with geo-tagging, provides a record of activities that can be used in a court case.”
The social media site is gaining traction as a resource for divorce lawyers searching for information and evidence to support their client’s case. There has been a 10% increase in the connection between Facebook and divorce since 2010, when Facebook was cited in 20% of UK divorces.
In addition to contributing to incriminating evidence in divorce cases, Facebook has also been recognized as playing a role in the relationship problems and marital breakdowns that lead to divorce. In 2012, sending inappropriate Facebook messages was among the top three reasons that social media was cited in a British divorce case.
Common sense should dictate that we proceed with caution when sharing details about our lives in a social media space where our actions are digitally recorded and our interactions are often on display. However, until people learn to respect their own right to privacy, social media sites like Facebook will continue to retain relevance in divorce cases worldwide.