Was your relationship status updated to “divorce” because of Facebook?

For several years now, technology has found a way to impact almost every aspect of our lives. Social media alone has revolutionized the way in which people interact and relate with one another. But, despite the fact that social media sites have facilitated the creation of countless friendships and relationships, they have also led to the demise of untold others.

For instance, many Illinois divorce proceedings have been initiated after one spouse discovered incriminating pictures or messages on social media sites - like Facebook - implicating the other spouse in extramarital affairs.

In fact, various activities and conduct unearthed on Facebook are quickly becoming very common triggers for commencing divorces. According to a report issued last year by Divorce Online, one-third of all divorce filings included the word "Facebook" somewhere in the filing in 2011 - which is a dramatic increase from a 2009 study conducted by a different group that found only roughly 20 percent of divorce filings cited Facebook.

To further bolster evidence of this trend, it was reported last year that the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers claimed more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys believe the role of social networking in divorce proceedings is increasing.

Facebook & child support

However, Facebook is also finding a way to permeate areas of family law beyond divorce - namely child-support disputes. For example, there have been examples of unsuspecting dads who have been nabbed for unpaid child support when they posted updates to their locations on Facebook.

In addition, there was a recent instance in which Facebook photos were used as evidence in a child-support dispute after a father claimed he lived in poverty and could not afford to pay child support. The photos allegedly depicted the man holding large amounts of cash and on a European vacation. Although the man disputes the cash was actually his, it illustrates just how easily Facebook posts can create family law issues.

Seek assistance if involved in a Facebook-instigated family law dispute

If anything, the issues outlined in this article merely demonstrate the importance of thinking twice before blindly posting a picture or message on Facebook. What may originally appear as an innocuous update or photo may ultimately bring about life-altering consequences such as divorce.

However, for those who have already found themselves involved in a family law dispute, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to be advised of your rights and options given your circumstances.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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10.0Donald J Cosley
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