Divorcing individuals whenever using social media--before, during, or after their legal proceedings--are advised to be aware, be cautious, and be smart.
Dothan, AL (PRWEB) December 21, 2011
Technology and divorce: What do they have in common? Much more than many users, including divorcing couples, might should, could, but don’t, think about. In short, especially to you divorcing social media users: Beware!
With today’s user-friendly technology only a fingertip and a few clicks away, social media may be used to meet multiple personal needs. Some use it as a way to interact with old acquaintances, meet new friends, post thoughts as a way to de-stress, and also as a pathway into their private world. These ways of using social media may seem very innocent, unless--and until--you or your mate decide to divorce. Instead of typing the acronym LOL for “laugh out loud,” those with social media accounts who are in the process of divorce, may be typing COL, for “cry out loud.”
According to Forbes Magazine on November 7, 2011, a Connecticut couple was ordered to relinquish the passwords of their social media accounts, including their Facebook and dating websites. What was once thought to be confidential or at least visible only “to their friends” will now become evidence in a divorce court where their children are involved--not only to question infidelity issues, but also to be used as ammunition to fight for full child custody.
Social media is able to obtain much personal information from each user, and it is widely known that many participants use social media as a means to “tell all.” So when couples divorce, nothing is assured of remaining confidential. Parties often desire to “air their dirty laundry,” both online and in the courtroom, in order to prevail in divorce proceedings outcome.
Information gained from social media is now frequently becoming evidence in the legal arena of divorce. In a 2010 study of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, it was found that 81 per cent of the nation’s top divorce attorneys reported that in the past five years, they witnessed an increase in the number of cases involving social networking. Sixty-six percent of the AAML respondents reported that Facebook was the primary source of this type of evidence. Online dating sites are also a source of friendships where individuals post that they are single and in search of friendship outside their marriage.
Postings on social media sites often include feelings about a spouse’s parenting ability--or lack thereof, as well as superior feelings of newfound freedoms after being “separated,” and inclusions of activities of which they have been a part, not to mention pictures that “only friends” were meant to see, and even secrets of private thoughts that often “leak” out, as one begins to “tell all.”
When a married couple begins to drift apart, social media may become an escape from everyday life and can portray a different persona to the public than has been apparent in private. Friends from the past can be easily found, and social media not only offer suggestions of how to locate someone from the past, but also suggest ways to forge new friendships. So, before a user is fully aware, friendships may evolve into more than a casual post or tweet, emerging into more meaningful relationships than were initially intended or expected. This can easily occur, as noted from statistics of January, 2011, from online analysts Nielsen, which showed that 135 million people in the US visited Facebook during that month – nearly 70% of the country's internet users. And on average, users spent more than seven hours a month visiting the site.
Different standards may be becoming a part of divorce in this ever-expanding society of social media. When feeling the need to post pictures, express thoughts, locate and re-connect with former acquaintances, users are well-advised to carefully examine their motives and the possibly resulting consequences. What was once thought to be a “fun” outlet, social media must now be seen in a much different perspective. When viewed by strangers with judicial power who can determine the fate of parental rights and divorce decrees, social media can actually turn one’s world literally upside down. Are social networking outlets during a divorce worth a few emotional postings and tweets? Probably not in hindsight. Especially in the difficult and treacherous emotional terrain of divorce, it’s probably best to think again.
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