Does Facebook wreck marriages?
Divorce lawyers are seeing an increase in cases that involve social networking sites.
This post comes from Quentin Fottrell at partner site SmartMoney.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed his status to "married" on Saturday and received more than a million "likes" from his followers. But the site he founded isn't always so marriage-friendly. In fact, lawyers say the social network contributes to an increasing number of marriage breakups.
More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word "Facebook," according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a legal services firm. And more than 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they've seen a rise in the number of cases involving social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
"I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time," says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney in New London, Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook.
"Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook," says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book "Facebook and Your Marriage" with his wife, Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. "On Facebook," he says, "they happen in just a few clicks." (Post continues below.)
The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both reconnects old flames and allows people to "friend" someone they may have only met once in passing. "It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair," he says. Facebook declined to comment.
Even when extramarital affairs develop with no help from Facebook, experts say the site provides a deceptively comfortable forum for people to let off steam about their lives and inadvertently arouse the suspicions of spouses.
"The difference with Facebook is it feels safe, innocent and private," says Randy Kessler, an Atlanta-based lawyer and current chair of the family law section of the American Bar Association. (See "Facebook and Divorce Discussed in WSJ.") "People put an enormous amount of incriminating stuff out there voluntarily." It could be something as innocuous as a check-in at a restaurant, he says, or a photograph posted online.
When couples do end up in divorce court, lawyers say Facebook posts are used to determine alimony and child custody. Last year, a superior district court judge in Connecticut ordered a divorcing couple to hand over the passwords of their respective Facebook accounts to the other's lawyers.
Kessler says it's an extremely useful vehicle to gather evidence. "It helps me cross-examine a witness," he says. Any pattern of behavior that's recorded on Facebook relating to parenting skills, excessive partying or even disparaging remarks about a spouse that violates a court order could be admissible in court.
Of course, it's not Facebook's fault it's being dragged through divorce court, he says, "It's the people who use it."
More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:
I personally can’t stand Facebook. I don’t know why it’s anyone’s business what I’m doing and where I’m going every second of the day. All it does is cause problems…I’ve seen it happen. It suddenly transports middle aged people back into gradeschool, where they turn into whiney, jealous 12 year olds. My boyfriend created a FB page 3 months ago and he is completely addicted to it. He was a 35 year old man 3 months ago. Now he acts like a dramatic 12 year old girl. It hasn’t ruined our relationship yet, but we’ll see what kind of a hole he digs for himself.
Of course its the person- but in realty FACEBOOK made it very easy. Now when a cute girl joins the staff at work or smiles at my husband at a wedding he has the ability to immediately find out who they are (scan a few wedding photos and look for tags) look at their photos and start emailing innocent flirty emails to see if anyone "bites". Before it would have been either too difficult or too awkward.
Now its easy - "Wow, nice photo - I love New York City!" moving forward to "I loved that perfume you had on at the wedding" ...to ease into unacceptable online emotional affairs.
He worked his was up to hinting at "dates" with two people before I caught him, that did not stop him from trying a third time. I don't think he would have had the guts without FACEBOOK to make it easy. But now he is gone and he can Facebook all he likes....
Face book is "A Moral". It is no different than a brick. You can use a brick to smash a window or use that same brick to build a church or school. Its not a brick problem. Its a people problem. Same as its not a face book problem, its a people problem.
If it wasn't the use of face book breaking up your marriage, eventually it would be something else because God was not in your marriage and was weak to start with. I am sure Face book doesn't help and may expidite the process but its a people problem.
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