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Facebook is cause of trouble in some divorce cases

We have previously discussed how social media sites like Facebook have changed how divorce happens in Utah. These days, it is not uncommon for someone going through divorce to keep tabs on his or her spouse's online activity for evidence that he or she is hiding assets or is an unfit parent. Courts take online pictures and videos seriously and their content may affect the divorce decree.

It turns out that Facebook may actually be the cause of divorce in many cases, at least according to a recent study. While the study is from another country, readers in Utah would probably not be surprised if there were similar Facebook-related divorce stories here as well.

The study was conducted by a U.K. website. In that country, divorcing spouses must file "behavior petitions" with the court -- essentially, the reasons they are seeking to end the marriage. Looking through the petitions, the website found that the word "Facebook" came up in 20 percent of them in December 2009. The percentage quickly ballooned to one-third of the petitions two years later.

Looking more closely at the petitions, the authors found three main scenarios in which Facebook played a role in divorce. The most common reason was that the petitioner caught his or her spouse sending sexually suggestive messages to someone else. In other cases, the couple had separated and one of the spouses posted nasty messages on his or her Facebook page that ruined any chances of reconciliation. Finally, in other cases a Facebook friend would stumble upon evidence of an affair, often because he or she is "friends" with both cheaters. The friend then passes along the evidence to the other spouse.

This study is a good reminder that what we say and do on the Internet can rarely be kept secret forever.

Source: KTVX-TV, "Is Facebook causing divorce?" June 13, 2013

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