Last year, a New York judge made national headlines when he allowed a woman to serve divorce papers on her husband via Facebook. Calling social media, “the next frontier in developing law of the service of process over the Internet,” the judge ruled that serving process via Facebook was justified since the husband had appeared to take steps to avoid being served through other means.
While this is a novel, and particularly noteworthy, example of the law and social media crossing paths, this is by no means the only way that social media can impact a marriage or divorce. Recent studies have shown that social media is increasingly affecting marriages and divorces in two other key ways as well: (i) by serving as a tool for infidelity, and (ii) by providing evidence that can be used in a divorce.
Social Media as a Tool for Infidelity
One in five adults uses Facebook to flirt. This was one of the key findings of a study conducted as part of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. From new co-workers to old acquaintances, Facebook and other social media sites make it easy for people to forge new relationships and rekindle old fires. Studies have also shown that a significant portion of the individuals who use Facebook and other social media sites to flirt are married.
This, according to researchers, is leading to an increase in divorce petitions that cite social media as a factor leading to the decision to separate. While Florida is now a pure “no-fault” divorce state (meaning that either spouse can file for divorce at any time on the grounds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”), issues such as infidelity can still play a role in various factors relating to a divorce.
Social Media as a Source of Evidence in Your Divorce
With this in mind, Facebook and other social media posts are also increasingly being used as evidence in Florida divorces. From arguments posted for the entire world to see to conversations with acquaintances, once something is shared on social media, it becomes difficult – if not impossible – to control. If you and your spouse have Facebook friends in common, or if you have “friends” who you do not really know, your posts could easily end up being used against you in your divorce.
The same goes for anything else you choose to share with your friends and followers. For example, if you post a photo of yourself out late at night drinking at a bar, your spouse could use this to argue against your claims for alimony or child custody. While these types of arguments will have varying degrees of merit, to protect yourself, the best course of action will likely be to avoid the issue by limiting your social media activity during your divorce.
Beller & Bustamante, P.L. | Jacksonville, FL Divorce Lawyers
Beller & Bustamante, P.L. is a Florida divorce and family law firm serving clients in Clay, Duval, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties. If you have questions about your spouse’s use of social media or are considering filing for divorce, feel free to call us to schedule a consultation.