Social media has found a way of making its way into courtrooms, yes courtrooms. It is increasingly common within divorce proceedings and proceedings relating to children for social media to be used as evidence. As the reach of technology into our everyday lives increases, it means that there are increasing ways in which individuals can share content, and what can be put onto social media can easily find its way into a courtroom.
Years ago, when couples would only have offline conversations, there was no convenient way of recording what was being said. However, with the invention of smart phones and the growth of apps which allow for the recording of phonecalls and the ability to screenshot a message, a new form of evidence can be used by people in their divorce and children cases. Judges are now making decisions influenced by social media evidence.
Social media can havea powerful effect on a relationship and is a common source of conflict and breakdown within a marriage. Divorce lawyers have made it clear that there has been a rapid increase in the amount of divorce cases which have been brought forward from using evidence found on the big wide web of social media.
The effects of social media on marriage and divorce
Research has shown the direct effect that social media, including Twitter and Facebook, has had on marriage and divorce. One in seven couples has considered getting a divorce because of their partner’s Facebook statuses and posts. Research also shows that social media is used as a way of finding out their partners infidelity: it can be used to discover whom they are regularly talking to, whether they are meeting with other people and the consequences of finding the answer can sometimes be devastating.
When posting, words said are not always the only thing can have a negative impact. As social media platforms are evolving they are finding new ways to engage with their audience, one example of this is the introduction of location stamping, a seemingly innocent addition which can have catastrophic effects on a relationship.
The impact of a relationship breakdown on children is rarely positive and all too often, truly devastating. It is never an ideal situation for children to get caught up within the arguments or to be in the firing line. It is not just adults that have the capability of using social media, children also have a wide range of ways to access social media, and therefore it is important to take that into consideration. While divorce proceedings take place, information placed on social media should be kept to a minimum. The damage it could cause is important to understand. It could cause damage to the parent-child relationship and could leave the child feeling they have no one to speak to and have to pick a side. How social media can cause damage
- Too much screentime, not enough face time
When couples are coming home from a day of work, instead of discussing the events of the day, many couples opt to attend to their social media, ranting or discussing work on there. The time that is being used to browse varied social media apps could be better used on face to face interaction.
- ‘Why do they look happy and we don’t’?
Comparison of marriages is often another cause of divorce. There is always a natural tendency to compare yourself and your partner to others. It may be perceived that others have a perfect relationship which often highlights the weaknesses in your own marriage.
- ‘It’s only my friends that are going to see it…’
With technology moving on and the evolution of apps, we tend to share much of our frustration and private family moments with people that we add or befriend on social media. The important aspect that sticks out is that the ‘friends’ that we place our trust in could possibly use that information against us and cause a lot of damage where it is not needed, even if they do it unwittingly. It only takes one person to ‘like’ or share something you post online and then a whole new audience can see it too.
- Venting frustration
At the time, it may seem very tempting to vent on your social media account. No matter how tempting it may be to vent frustration at an ex-husband or ex-wife it always creates more of a problem than it solves.
- ‘It’s on private, so I’ll be okay’
Even though an account may be on private, don’t assume that others cannot see it. More people can probably view the posts than you may think and those posts may appear on pages of other individuals.
What goes online, even if deleted, tends to stay online, therefore before posting… think would I mind a judge seeing that? If it does end up being screenshoted by someone, is that okay? The consequences are extremely devastating if information that should not have intended to be online is now evidence in the hands of a judge. Think carefully, before social media has the last laugh.