26 June 2014
Divorce Solicitor Advises Couples to Think Twice before Tweeting
A new study has warned that too much tweeting could lead to a breakdown of relationships and divorce.
Researchers reveal that the more active Twitter users are, the more likely they are to experience conflict with their partners, raising the risk of infidelity, relationship break-up and divorce.
The study recommends users to cut to more moderate, healthy usage levels if they are experiencing Twitter related conflict with their partners/spouses.
Whilst it may win you a lot of followers, logging in, tweeting, sending direct messages and favouriting tweets can result in a Twitter addiction; leaving loved ones to feel rejected and suspicious.
Researchers found that some couples share joint social networking site accounts to reduce or try to avoid conflicts. There are even social networking site apps, such as 2Life, that facilitates interpersonal communication between partners.
As a Divorce Solicitor, I have experienced cases of people trying to play dirty in divorce through the use of social media campaigns to get back at their ex. Furthermore, many marriages break down after spouses find out about extra marital affairs online. Indeed, social media sites like Facebook are, according to some reports, cited in 1 in 5 Divorce Petitions issued before the Family Courts.
It is my advice to use social media with caution, especially if you are going through a separation or divorce.
Social media has introduced another dilemma to consider, who gets to keep the photographs?
Imagine the scene, you have gone through a difficult break up with your partner or spouse and you have gently broken the news to family and close friends. You think about your Facebook account, how you will have to now change your status from “married” or “in a relationship” to “single” and suddenly it hits you; what will happen to the endless photographs posted on your Facebook profile recording the happier times?
Social media chats have become the norm. This is where you discuss and agree what should happen to the photos, whether they should be kept or deleted and there is usually an agreement that permission will be sought before any more photos of each other are posted (although why you would want to post a picture of your ex beats me!).
In America, these chats have formed into “social media prenups” in which couples can put a social media clause into traditional prenuptial agreements before they get married. A typical prenup clause states that a couple can’t post nude or embarrassing pictures of each other without their permission and there is even a severe financial penalty if the clause if broken.
Such social media clauses are beginning to creep into British prenuptial agreements which I think in today’s day and age of social media is incredibly helpful. Once that mouse button has been clicked, the damage has been done. It can be humiliating and it can hurt. The inclusion of the social media clause in a prenuptial agreement takes away your ex’s right to share your confidential information/images and safeguards the break up getting messy for the entire world wide web to see.
The way legal documents are drafted in England & Wales is very different to America, the documents cover the legalities rather than dealing with more personal issues. Prenuptial agreements in England & Wales do however tend to include keeping medical or personal matters confidential. For example in high profile cases, the agreements are likely to include a clause preventing the ex leaking any information to the press. However, you don't have to be celebrity to have a prenup and given that social media is now the norm, it is sensible to include a social media clause into your prenuptial agreement to protect yourself.
Although enforceable in many countries outside the UK, as the law "currently" stands in England & Wales these agreements are not legally binding and cannot be used to limit or oust the jurisdiction of the Family Court in Divorce. However, after the Supreme Court decision in the case of Radmacher - v – Granatino (2010) a principle has been established that the Court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.
Georgina Chase is a Family & Divorce Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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