If you use Facebook, you are among the majority of the American public. According to varioussources, 58 percent of all Americans have a Facebook account, and 71 percent of Americans who are online use the site. This dwarfs use of other social media platforms (Pinterest and LinkedIn tie for a distant second at just 28 percent).
If you are a frequent user, have you considered how Facebook may be impact your marriage – or your divorce? From a legal perspective, it could have more of an impact than you might think.
Facebook as Grounds for Divorce
According to a study conducted in Great Britain earlier this year, one third of all divorce petitions mention Facebook. The study also found that 25 percent of married couples argue about each other’s social media use at least once a week, and 17 percent argue about it every single day. In the U.S., mentions of Facebook and other social media use in divorce petitions are on the rise as well.
While Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state (meaning that you do not need to specify a reason in order to file for divorce), spouses typically have a trigger – or series of triggers – that compels them to file. More and more frequently, these triggers are coming about through social media. For example, people have filed for divorce as a result of:
Their spouse sending intimate or inappropriate messages to others through Facebook
Fighting with their spouse on Facebook
Facebook “friends” reporting a spouse’s inappropriate comments or unacceptable behavior
Spouses’ excessive use of social media at home (when, perhaps, they should be spending time with their families) can also put strain on a relationship and eventually lead to divorce as well.
Creating Evidence to Be Used Against You (or Your Spouse)
Importantly, Facebook posts can also serve as key evidence in a couple’s divorce. For example, even though fault typically does not come into play in Florida (note, though, that certain types of fault can affect a court’s custody determination and the “equitable” division of property), inadvisable Facebook posts can still harm a spouse’s chances of getting what they want out of their divorce.
No More Dodging Process Servers
A third, brand new intersection between Facebook, marriage, and divorce was created earlier this year when a judge in New York ruled that the social media site could be used for serving divorce papers. Typically, divorce papers are served in person or through some other more-traditional means. But, calling Facebook, “the next frontier in the developing law of the service of process over the internet,” the judge approved the use of a Facebook private message to initiate a couple’s divorce.
It should be noted that this is just one ruling in New York, and since divorce laws are different in every state, the decision in New York does not have any direct impact in Florida. However, it at least suggests that laws across the nation are changing as a result of social media and technology.
McMichen, Cinami & Demps is an Orlando, FL family law firm that represents clients in marriage-related matters and divorces statewide. For more information about our services, please contact our divorce lawyers today.