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Family Law in Canberra – New warnings about social media

The release of a new study in the UK has caused consternation with the news that one in seven British people have considered divorce due to their spouse’s activity on social media. Other findings are revealing: 58 percent know their spouse’s computer passwords, even if they don’t know it; a quarter of respondents say they have at least one argument a week related to social media use, and almost a fifth fight about social media every day.

The survey by Censuswide among 2,011 husbands and wives, found the most common reasons for checking their spouse’s social media accounts was to discover who they were talking to, who they were meeting and where they were going.

Arguments were provoked by contact with former partners, by the sending of secret messages, and by the posting of ‘inappropriate’ pictures.


A comparable study in the US in 2010 found that 81 percent of divorce attorneys polled say they’ve seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence in the past five years, while 66 percent had used Facebook to ‘comb for evidence’.

Experts suggest to prevent social media causing relationship problems, to bear the following in mind: that your social capital is your reputation and reflects your integrity (and even your baggage to potential new partners). Apart from the danger of appearing like a drama queen to friends, remember that not every ‘friend’ is necessarily a genuine friend. Even if you delete something, someone may already have screenshot it.

Divorce can sometimes degenerate into a ‘he said-she said’ game, but it’s important to understand that emails and other written messages can be used in court, so don’t say anything you wouldn’t want a judge to read, and on the other hand, keep everything you receive from your ex.

Social media can feel like an opportunity to play armchair forensic psychologist—checking your ex’s activity, or that of mutual friends; looking for updates or photos that reveal information that conflicts with what is said in legal documents, or discrepancies in lifestyle claims to cast doubt on credibility. Always remember though: it works both ways. Electronic documentation lasts forever and might even have an effect on others one day (such as your kids), so keep your online revelations squeaky clean.

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