Facebook Friends? – Divorce Alert!

 

Spouse on Facebook! – More Than Friends?

Everyone knows that social media sites, like Facebook, promote social intercourse, between Friends.

But did anyone comprehend that the line between Friends, and Friends with benefits, would so frequently be crossed? In fact, according to a recent survey of U.S. divorce attorneys, Facebook was cited as a contributing factor in 20% of U.S. divorces.

While Canadian statistics were not cited, I can’t imagine that the Canadian experience would be all that much different.

In my own family law practice I’ve certainly heard stories from clients who, much to their dismay, have discovered that their spouse has been surreptitiously engaged in communicating with, or soliciting, individuals for the purpose of extra-marital hanky panky.

Such revelation may or may not be the final straw in the marriage, but invariably my client will ask about the legal implications of such infidelity.

It’s still a surprise when I inform my client that the principle of “blame” has not played any part in divorce law for many years.

In other words, in the eyes of the law, the fact that your spouse has been unfaithful provides neither you nor your wandering spouse with any legal advantage or disadvantage, save one.

Yes, it is still possible to obtain a divorce on the basis of adultery, rather than waiting the typical one year separation. I believe my last adultery divorce file was about twenty years ago. That’s obviously not because the wayward behaviour of spouses has changed.

It’s because dragging another party into the action, along with the required evidence of adultery, while tempting, will likely only cause more complications, and cost both of you more in related legal costs. After all, the mutual embarrassment and anger will virtually destroy any reasonable prospect of a negotiated settlement.

And what’s the top recommendation of one psychologist interviewed in the survey to avoid such a predicament? Spouses should share their passwords and situate the computer in a visible well travelled location in the house.

I disagree.

So what’s my advice to you and your spouse to minimize the risk of lawyering up over social media misuse?

Take the opportunity to maintain a special social connection – only this time – with each other!

Facebook De-Spousing – Beware!

Some teens are apparently turned off the popular social networking site Facebook because their parents have joined up. One major teen turn-off  could be the indiscrete behavior some of their parents are up to with their Facebook accounts, especially those in the midst of a hotly contested separation or divorce.

Shocking behavior which has reportedly attracted the attention of 66% of all American family lawyers trolling various social networking sites like Facebook. All of whom are hoping to collect damaging, or at the very least, highly embarrassing evidence. Evidence which has the potential, if disclosed during court proceedings, to seriously undermine your legal position.

After all, as any family lawyer will acknowledge, there is no better, or credible evidence, to be used against a party, than their own words, or actions, in this case, incriminating information  disclosed on their own Facebook account.

One kind of evidence reports, or celebrates, a spouse’s extramarital activities. While here in Canada evidence of adultery is grounds for divorce, in my experience (although this may now change as a consequence of such self disclosure) it is rarely alleged. That’s because other legal grounds for divorce are far simpler, and less messy, ie. a one year period of separation. 

Notwithstanding, the embarrassing fact that your extramarital flings could become known by one and all, if the matter proceeds to court, could prove to be a huge bargaining advantage to your ex spouse’s lawyer. After all, far better to settle out of court, than have your dirty laundry hung out to dry in court.

Another kind of evidence involves inappropriate information, or behavior, disclosed by spouses engaged in custody or access battles with their ex. Prime on this list is one parent being disparaging, or worse, towards the other parent, with the children being enlisted as unwitting pawns. Behavior, such as one parent encouraging a son or daughter, to “un-friend” the other parent, would prove to be incredibly powerful evidence of parental alienation.

So, beware, if you happen to be separating or divorcing, be discrete, and don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your ex, any children, and the rest of the world, to know. Otherwise, much to yours and your lawyer’s dismay, you could be reading all about it, in your ex’s affidavit.