In the digital age, the influence of social media on various aspects of our lives cannot be ignored. It has revolutionised the way we communicate, share information, and stay connected with friends and family. However, the widespread use of social media has also brought unforeseen challenges, particularly in the realm of personal relationships and family dynamics. From flirting on Facebook or gaining traction on Twitter, social media has got its tentacles into almost every aspect of our lives, including our romantic relationships.
This article aims to explore how social media can contribute to the breakdown of marriages, leading to potential grounds for divorce in Northern Ireland.
How can Social Media Play a Part in Divorce?
There are a few ways that social media can have a role in a divorce and we’re going to explore some of these in this section.
Instigating the Breakdown of a Relationship
Social media is all about connecting people but, in some cases, friending someone can lead to the blurring of the line between friendship and something more. Shockingly, figures show that social media has a hand in one in seven divorces and this is usually down to one spouse believing that the other is ‘cheating’ with somebody online. Often this will lead to that spouse turning detective and scrutinising their wife or husband’s social media presence for evidence which, in turn, can lead to the breakdown of the relationship.
There doesn’t necessarily need to be infidelity involved for social media to impact on a marriage or relationship. 51% of mobile phone users say that quality time with their partner is often interrupted by social media use and many say that they have regular arguments with their partner over excessive social media use when they’re together.
During and After the Divorce
As well as being a factor in a divorce happening in the first place, social media can also have a negative impact during and after the divorce proceedings and we’ll take a look at how in this section.
For many people, a divorce is a stressful time and this can be exacerbated by seeing your soon-to-be ex flaunting a new relationship on social media. A lot of people continue to check out their ex’s social media even though they know that no good can come of it and, similarly, some will choose to deliberately ‘wind up’ their ex by showing off a new partner.
Unfortunately, even the most innocent of interactions can be misinterpreted on social media and so it’s always best to keep any intimate or romantic pictures close to your chest until the ink is dry on your divorce.
Child Care and Custody
It’s only natural to want to share pictures of your kids on social media but this can cause problems if your ex is watching your every move. In some cases, a spouse will try to use the most minute detail of a social media post to strengthen their bid for child custody. This can be amplified further if a new partner is, quite literally, in the picture.
Being Caught Out
It’s extremely common for money to play a huge part in divorce proceedings, and many people don’t realise that their social media presence can leave them out of pocket. For example, one partner is claiming that they need financial help in order to be able to pay the rent and bills and is then spotted on Facebook showing off a new car or extravagant holiday. In 2023, social media is routinely used to ‘catch people out’ and that includes a number of factors relating to separation and divorce.
Publishing Private Information
For a lot of people, social media offers an opportunity to have a little vent and, while this is fine when you’ve suffered poor customer service or fallen victim to the weather, it can be held against you during a divorce. Unfortunately, we often fail to use the same filters on social media that we would in real life and sharing private information about your divorce or your former partner can land you in hot water and potentially damage your case during a divorce.
Pause Before Posting
Social media can be an extremely useful tool and a great way of staying connected with friends and family even if you live miles apart. However, when going through a divorce, you should always proceed with caution. We have a tendency to want to give the illusion of living our best lives on our Facebook and Instagram but this can very much work against you during a divorce.
Where possible, try to take a social media break until your divorce is finalised. If this isn’t possible, try to be mindful of what you’re posting and how those posts might be interpreted by your former partner or a divorce court. While this may be frustrating, it’s worth remembering that it’s only for a few months after which you’ll be starting your brand-new life – both on and offline.