Study: Facebook cited in a third of divorces in 2011

Posted Jan 1, 2012 by Kesavan Unnikrishnan
A survey conducted by a UK divorce website shows Facebook figured prominently in one-third of divorce petitions in UK for the year 2011.
Jacob Bøtter (CC BY 2.0)
A study carried out by Divorce-Online., a UK based legal services firm, says over 33% of behaviour petitions filed in 2011 contained the word “Facebook.” Based on a survey sample of 5,000 divorce petitions, the most common reason for separation given was spouses’ behaviour with the opposite sex in Facebook. This is a sharp increase from 2009 when only one in five petitions mentioned Facebook as an issue. More than 30 million people in the UK — about half the population — log into Facebook each month.
The site says that couples are increasingly using their public walls as weapons in their divorce battle these days.The top three reasons Facebook was cited in these petitions:
1. Inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex.
2. Separated spouses posting nasty comments about each other.
3. Facebook friends reporting spouse’s behavior.
Mark Keenan, founder and CEO of Online Legal Services Limited, the parent company of Divorce-Online,says:
Facebook has become the primary method for communicating with friends for many people. People contact ex-partners and the messages start as innocent, but lead to trouble. If someone wants to have an affair or flirt with the opposite sex then it’s the easiest place to do it.” With the mention of Facebook in approximately 1,650 divorce petitions in the United Kingdom, it’s clear that the growth of the social network has had an increasingly negative effect on troubled marriages over the last two years.
Social networking sites, especially Facebook are often cited as a major factor in many divorce cases. In November, Digitaljournal reported a Connecticut judge ordering a divorcing couple to hand over each other's Facebook passwords after lawyers argued they may contain evidence that could be used for the case.
It wasn’t just Facebook that was cited in divorce cases though – Twitter appeared in 20 petitions as part of behaviour allegations, meaning the social messaging tool was only used as evidence in less than 1% of cases.