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Facebook's role in divorce increases

Several months ago in our Baltimore Family Law Blog, we discussed the growing trend of social media profiles being used for evidence in divorce courts. A recent news report now confirms that in 2011, Facebook was mentioned in one-third of all divorce documents in the United States, according to a recent survey.

This is up from one-fifth in 2009.

However, Facebook is not only mentioned in terms of evidence, but also in terms of divorce causes. As the popular website's login page says, "Facebook helps you connect and share with people in your life." However, it can also help one meet new people.

This is not to say that Facebook is responsible for one-third of divorces. Infidelity certainly found its way into marriages long before social media was invented, but in recent decades, cheating spouses have made full use of internet communication, according to the survey.

And of course Facebook is not the only online communication venue used for this. As researchers have noted, people are bolder when communicating online. This makes it easier to approach potential extra-marital lovers without thinking about the implications.

Authors of 'Facebook and Your Marriage,' have said that people who communicate over the internet "feed off the rush they're feeling rather than rationally thinking about what they're doing."

Social networking also makes flirting easier than traditional e-mail or text messaging. This is because one can browse social networks for new and old acquaintances, while to email or text, one generally has to already have a person's email address or phone number.

And as the site's prominence in divorce filings suggests, Facebook's role in exposing or proving affairs has grown as well. Like other electronic records, Facebook interactions may remain in existence long after they have been forgotten by the participants. Also like other electronic records, Facebook messages and chats may be subject to subpoena in divorce proceedings.

Source: New York Daily News, "Facebook named in a third of divorce filings in 2011,"Lindsay Goldwert, May 24, 2012

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