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Social Media and Its Evidentiary Impact On Divorce ProceedingsJennifer Baker, a professional at the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, contends that roughly 50 percent of marriages in America end in divorce.
In the past this statistic usually represented the younger generation. Those 50 years or older generally avoided divorce and upheld their marriage vow of “until death do you part.” Unfortunately, the divorce rate for those over 50 has nearly doubled in the last twenty years. Today, one in three of these marriages end in divorce.
Divorce occurs for many reasons including:
- Economic difficulties
- Midlife crisis
- Substance abuse
- Domestic violence
- Living in a home without children for the first time
Think Before You “Post” or “Poke”
An overwhelming majority of attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) said they have seen an increase in social media evidence presented during divorce proceedings. Both attorney and private investigators are increasingly efficient at finding incriminating evidence on popular websites such as Facebook, Google+, MySpace, and Twitter.
These photos, comments, posts or status updates are seldom the type of information an estranged spouse wants presented to a judge. As Divorce.com suggests, an exposed parent could easily lose custody of their children, lose alimony, or find out a prenuptial agreement is invalidated due to improper behavior found online.
The Ease of ReconnectingFifteen years ago it took considerable effort for someone to track down a past love. Today, however, all one needs to do is enter their high school sweetheart’s name into a search engine to see where they work, if they are married or divorced, and often their exact mailing address.
Needless to say, temptations are at an all-time high, leading to what Nancy Kalish, a professor of psychology at California State University, calls “accidental affairs.” Harmless emails can escalate quickly, even for those in happy marriages who would not have cheated but for how easy it is to communicate through social networking sites.
In the end it is the individual’s responsibility for what they post on Facebook and other popular websites. Those unfamiliar with the dangers and allure of social media, however, must pay close attention to what they put on the internet.