It may be hard to believe but Facebook has been around and open to the general public since 2006—over 15 years! Twitter launched that same year, and since then we see new social network sites (SNS) popping up every day. Shortly after social media became a “thing,” complaints linking social media and marriage problems began to surface. Is Facebook bad for marriage? The short answer is: yes. Plus, social media and divorce can also be a problematic combination.
There is definitely a link between the use of social media and marriage problems
As a divorce attorney Fort Worth-based, I can tell you from personal experience—and after handling thousands of divorces over the past 15 years—that social media can definitely create problems in some marriages. So why do social media and marriage problems go hand in hand?
In my opinion, the reason social media has contributed to a rise in divorces is that it triggers one of the seven deadly sins—envy. People who become obsessed with social media and feel compelled to post and scroll through their social feeds obsessively are constantly exposed to the pictures and posts of the “perfect” lives they see their “friends” living on social media.
Social media allows people to create and live in a fictitious fairy tale world, where “friends” have perfect marriages, amazing children and exotic vacations. If you spend hour upon hour seeing people live their perfect lives, you could start believing your life should be just as perfect (many people do). And if your life isn’t so perfect? That’s when envy sets in, followed by disappointment with your not-so-perfect life, which can lead to a desire to find a better life with someone else.
Of course, the desire for something more also leads some people to reconnect with past loves on social media in their search for a perfect life. Others make the leap to dating sites like Match.com, eHarmony, Tinder, Bumble and others to find romance, or at the very least, to hook-up with someone besides their spouse.
Research statistics on divorce and social media link SNS use to marital problems
Are you still wondering if social media divorce ties are for real? Now, our Fort Worth family law firm regularly sees issues where one party is obsessed with social media, and divorce follows soon afterward. But it’s not only divorce attorneys who see these parallels. Researchers have studied the social media and marriage problems link for years.
In fact, back in 2014, a study published in the journal Computers in Behavior concluded that using social media networks proved to be “negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce.” The researchers reviewed social media and divorce statistics from numerous studies—as far back as Facebook’s early days—to support this conclusion.
Social media use also plays a huge role in divorce and child custody cases
Not only are the ties between Facebook marriages and divorce real, but social media activity is also used as evidence in nearly every divorce case our firm handles today. You can bet when we take on a case, we’ll be scouring our client’s and the other party’s social media sites for information—and pronto.
For the record, if you are contemplating or have filed for divorce and are thinking about deleting your social media accounts, don’t do it. That act constitutes spoliation of evidence in divorce, which could work to the other party’s benefit if proven. Understandably, judges hate it when people attempt to destroy or hide evidence. It’s the same thing as lying, and lying to a judge will never work out in your favor.
How do you un-dig those graves? Honestly, it can be very challenging. Of course, the best thing to do is to refrain from posting or getting in disputes with people on social media, especially if the conversation (argument) could have a bearing on your case. However, if the genie is already out of the bottle and you posted something you regret on social media, it’s okay to go back and apologize. Simply say, “Look, I had a bad day. I’m not posting anymore. I’m sorry about my post.” At the end of the day, we’re all humans. If you make a mistake, you can own it.
How do lawyers use social media evidence during divorce and custody cases?
The amount of evidence we generate from people’s opinions, thoughts and statements on social media is generally, a hefty portion of the evidence we use in a court setting. You can learn a lot about a person’s behavior, personality and actions by looking at their posts and comments on social media. Attorneys also use social media evidence to establish timelines and patterns of behavior leading up to and during a divorce.
The crazy thing is that many people don’t realize the impact their social media activities can have on the outcome of their divorce and child custody cases. They also lack a fundamental understanding of the permanency of social media. Even if you deleted a post or comment you made in the past, someone could have taken a screenshot of the post, which means what you put out there on social media can last forever.
A few tips for social media use if you’re contemplating or going through a divorce
Tip No. 1: Refrain from posting and commenting on social media sites.
Better yet, stay off of social sites altogether to avoid the temptation to post. As mentioned earlier, what you (and your spouse) post on social media can be used as evidence in your divorce. If you get in a Twitter feud with your sister-in-law or make disparaging comments about your child’s other parent on Facebook, those comments could come back to haunt you later.
Tip No. 2: Don’t delete existing social media accounts or past activity.
If you destroy social media evidence that act is considered spoliation of evidence in Texas. While spoliation isn’t considered a criminal offense in Texas divorce cases, judges do frown upon it and could penalize you in other ways, such as agreeing to grant some sort of remedy to the other party.
Tip No. 3: Take screenshots of the other party’s posts and comments on social media.
For example, if you’ve seen disparaging Tweets of your wife or husband and social media activity on Facebook that sheds light on their bad behavior or attempts to alienate your children from you, take screenshots, print and secure them immediately. People delete posts and comments all the time. While spoliation of evidence is frowned upon (as noted above), you still need to prove the posts or social media accounts existed, in order to get a remedy in your favor.
Tip No. 4: Replace social media time with more positive pursuits.
If you are someone who is obsessed with social media, it’s critical to take a break from scrolling and posting during a divorce. Think about it. What true benefit are you getting from spending time on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.? Do you ever feel sad or insecure after seeing your friends’ perfect lives on social media? If that’s the case, why put yourself in that position, especially during one of the most challenging times of your life—a divorce?
Instead, make an effort to reach out directly to real friends and loved ones, and spend time with people who love and support you. Writing your thoughts down in a journal (instead of online) is another great way to get things off your chest and process your feelings. Just be sure to keep your journal in a safe place.
Looking for other positive things to do? Commit to making your bed first thing in the morning, set aside time to get outside and away from technology, or get creative with your kids (cook or bake together, catch a concert or ballgame, break out a puzzle or start a new arts and crafts project). You’ll be amazed by how terrific these small little positive shifts make you feel.
What to do if social media and marriage problems are spinning out of control
If you’re experiencing problems with your marriage and social media use by your spouse is to blame—or your obsession with social media has put a strain on your relationship—sitting down for a heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse could work wonders. You may also benefit from meeting with a family therapist or member of the clergy to hash out your concerns and come up with positive, actionable steps to help repair your marriage.
Should your marriage be irreparably damaged, reach out to an experienced family law attorney to learn more about your options for divorce, child custody and child support in Texas. Texas residents can contact our Fort Worth family law firm to discuss next steps.
To schedule a confidential case review with family law attorney Justin Sisemore, contact the Sisemore Law Firm at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.
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