Does Facebook cause a higher divorce rate?
Facebook… innocent enough website, right? How can we not be entertained by looking up a former girlfriend or a first love? It never hurt anyone to reminisce about a youthful uncomplicated romance. Innocence at its best.
Except that some commentators are calling Facebook “just a click away from an affair.” And affairs often lead to divorce.
According to a survey by the UK’s DivorceOnline, Facebook was implicated in a third of all divorce filings in a recent year. Moreover, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has cited in the not-so-distant past that over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys have witnessed a rise in the number of cases as a result of social networking. A study published in July 2014 in the journal, Computers in Human Behavior, revealed that the use of social networking sites “is negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce.”
Author Jason Krafsky, who wrote Facebook and Your Marriage, states that when couples deal with social media sites: “It is not enough to have good intentions. Most affairs do not start because someone says to themselves ‘I think I’ll have an affair.'” He states that Facebook “puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair.”
Many research studies are referring to “internet infidelity” and “virtual adultery” as a national epidemic. Apparently the anonymity associated with electronic communication allows users to feel more open and free in talking with other users. This anonymity and attention makes the “virtual affair” fun, easy, increasingly appealing and accessible.
But there is conflicting evidence. A study by the Journal of Family and Economic Issues found that there is no evidence of an increase of divorce due to social networking. Rather, this study suggests that Internet sites are simply an accessible means to explore relationships outside of marriage.
Regardless, Facebook and other social media sites are cited over and over as the cause for divorce and can also be influential as evidence in pending divorce matters. In a notable recent matter, Connecticut Judge Kenneth Shluger ordered a divorcing couple to swap login details for their Facebook and dating website accounts. Judge Shluger handed down the ruling after the husband told his lawyer that he had seen incriminating things on his wife’s Facebook account (via their shared computer at home) that could help him in a custody battle.
At Keil & Siegel we see how in this modern, fast-paced world marriages are tested in a variety of ways. Challenges can be Internet-based or develop elsewhere. Our advice to clients is to be smart about what they write, send and post online. As a rule of thumb, you should never post something that you would not want your worst enemy to see which, in a contested divorce, just may end up being your spouse.
Once you click “enter”, the decision is made. Proceed with caution and don’t add to the statistics on impulse.
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