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According to recent research commissioned by Slater & Gordon a quarter of couples argue over social media use.
I’m sure it will come as little surprise to learn that just under half of all adults in the UK admit they have secretly checked their partner’s Facebook account and one in five went on to argue about what they discovered.
The research also revealed that one in seven said they had contemplated divorce because of their partner’s activities on Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter or WhatsApp.
Nearly a quarter of the 2,000 married persons asked said they had at least one argument a week with their partner because of social media use and 17 per cent said they rowed every day because of it. The most common reasons for checking their partner’s social media accounts were to find out whom their partner was talking to, to keep tabs on them, to check who they were out with and find out if they were telling the truth about their social life. 14 per cent said they looked specifically to identify evidence of infidelity.
From my experience people do use social media sites to ‘spy’ on their partners and are often successful in gaining evidence of affairs or other inappropriate behaviour which has then caused their relationship to break down.
There is no doubt that social media has many benefits and has become an integral part of our day to day lives, both personally and professionally. It is a great way of keeping in touch with family and friends, sharing content and building business connections. When something happens in our lives, we post about it to let our friends know. When something happens in our careers we update our profiles. And…we post lots and lots of pictures! It can be great fun, but what this research has shown is that amidst the posting, liking and tweeting there can also be some very negative consequences.
I have certainly seen a large increase over the last five years in social media playing a part in relationship breakdown. It is not uncommon for clients to refer to social media use as a reason for divorce.
What I have also seen is that social media can make separation and divorce even tougher on those involved. Separating from your partner is an emotional time for everyone involved. Unpleasant comments about others from “well meaning” friends and family often proves very unhelpful and can make an amicable and speedy resolution more challenging to achieve.
As a family lawyer I’m often asked my view on this subject. My advice? Think for a moment about how you are using social media. Don’t post or share anything that you wouldn’t want to share with the whole world, and if you are going through a separation or divorce be sure to exercise caution and discretion.