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Does Facebook wreck marriages?

Divorce lawyers are seeing an increase in cases that involve social networking sites.

By MSN Money Partner May 22, 2012 12:42PM

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.


Image: Affair (© Image Source/CorbisMore 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:

May 22, 2012 6:23PM
I'm friends with a few ex-girlfriends on FB and would NEVER in a million years do anything to jeopardize my relationship with my wife.  Not only for her sake but she's the mother of my son who I love dearly.  How could I ever cheat on his mommy?  People need to keep it in their pants.  Nothing is worth losing your family over.
May 22, 2012 1:34PM
It's the fault of the people that use it? Ya think?
May 22, 2012 6:12PM
Whatever happened to just saying no?
May 22, 2012 7:24PM
I left facebook over a year ago.  Do I miss it?  Nope.  I was sick and tired of hearing "friends" go on and on about how great their spouse was, or how wonderful their children were.  What about stop spending so much time on facebook and spend it with your wonderful husband and kids???
May 22, 2012 6:41PM
My ex wife of 20 years used Facebook to troll for younger guys before finally leaving me for some guy and accidentally getting herself pregnant.  When I saw her Facebook pic, I could tell how promiscuous she was trying to be in the end.  I trusted her and I was wrong to do so.  Facebook will get married couples into trouble---eventually.

If you're married, I advise you to SHARE a Facebook account and post BOTH of your pictures on the front page.  You should BOTH have a username and password as well.

If you have separate accounts,... BEWARE!  And don't say I didn't warn you.
May 22, 2012 6:30PM
Facebook is pretty boring, actually.  I quit long ago.
May 22, 2012 7:26PM

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.

May 22, 2012 6:16PM
Facebook is for losers wanting to feel important
May 22, 2012 6:30PM
I will never join Facebook because my husband used it to sneak around behind my back when he was cheating on me.  I know the cheating wasn't Facebook's fault, but it sure did make it easier for him to sneak around.  I have never trusted Facebook since then.  I also really don't want to know that people I've lost contact with walked their dog or went to Zumba today.  If I really cared to still be in contact with them, I'd call them or go visit them.
May 22, 2012 6:55PM

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" 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.... 

May 22, 2012 6:53PM
its called "Face EVIL Book" as far as im concerned.  Between the people who love to air their dirty laundry  to people who try to make everyone jealous of things that are mostly made up for attention.  Its ALL about the attention

May 22, 2012 6:30PM
sorry, I do not believe that facebook is the problem...the problem lies with the PERSON involved...if they are inclined to cheat, they will, no matter if there was facebook or not...people are always looking for someone or something else to blame for their bad behavior, and never take responsibility for their own actions
May 22, 2012 6:17PM
If facebook is "wrecking marriages" they were doomed from the start.  Stop blaming facebook or anybody else for that matter.  Take responsibility for yourself.  If facebook "ruined" your marriage, your marriage was a farce anyway.  If you don't want your spouse seeing anything on facebook or hearing it from anyone else, don't post it!  If you hide things from your spouse, your marriage is doomed.  Marriage is about complete trust and companionship.  If you're gonna flirt with somebody after getting married, you shouldn't have gotten married.  If you want to act single, stay single.  Blaming facebood is just plain stupid.  Doesn't anybody take responsiblity for their actions anymore?
May 22, 2012 6:54PM
May 22, 2012 6:23PM
Just another example of why Facebook has no value; instead of being called a social platform it  is becoming more of an anti-social platform as more people are being forced to give up passwords or login into their accounts by schools and employers.  Wall street should have spent a little more time reading the blogs before jumping behind Facebook.
May 22, 2012 7:25PM
It's not just facebook, and I do believe Facebook is like a loaded gun. But all socially-postured technology is. The problem is not the technology, but as one person put it, how people use the technology. Remember the good old days when tech was not such a big constraint on our lives? Remember when we could let our home phones ring off the hook and not have to prepare for the predictable barrage we get these days? "Where were you? Why didn't you answer your phone? Why didn't you text me back? And why weren't you carrying your phone with you? Who are you emailing? Oh, so who's that you're texting? Who's that you're chatting with?" Social tech has become a hammer with which we bludgeon one another. This is one reason I always leave my phone in my car. I rarely carry it with me. Everybody who knows me knows this. I don't need the stress, and I certainly won't put up with the hassle.
May 22, 2012 6:59PM

I never joined facebook...

Saw how much time others wasted on it....

May 22, 2012 7:50PM
Facebook adds fuel to the flame. Women sending naked pictures to married men and luring them saying they want you, and old friends and lovers that are on there can look for you or your spouse. YES Facebook is a problem. It almost ruined my marriage and someone else on here says it was not meant can kiss my butt. Unless your on the site yourself, you can't realize how bad of a problem it REALLY is.
May 22, 2012 7:08PM

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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