It is a common scenario: a Facebook user receives a friend request from someone he or she has not talked to in some time, such as a high school or college classmate, or an old friend or former significant other. The two begin messaging each other, catching up and reliving old memories. For the most part, these exchanges are innocent.
But what happens when what started as a simple exchange between two old acquaintances becomes something more? It is easy for a conversation to develop into a flirtation or an affair, especially when there is a romantic history between the two. According to family law attorneys, this is why Facebook is behind a growing number of divorces in the U.S. today.
According to a recent survey of divorce attorneys, Facebook is now cited as the reason for the split in one out of every five divorces in the U.S. The survey, which was conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, also found that 80 percent of family law attorneys have seen a rise in the number of people who use social networking to engage in extramarital affairs.
In addition to the potentially damaging effect such online interactions can have on a marriage, family law attorneys say that the information shared on Facebook can be used as evidence in court cases for child custody or child support. For example, if a mother is trying to gain visitation time with her children, Facebook photos that portray her drinking heavily or using drugs will likely be used against her by the opposing party, and will certainly not be looked upon favorably by a judge.
Resource: CBC News: “Facebook cited in 20% of U.S. divorces“: March 4, 2011