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Family law

Social media is the new marriage minefield

Just under half of all Brits admit they have secretly checked their partner’s Facebook account and one in five went on to row about what they discovered, new research has revealed.

30 April 2015

Contemplating divorce

One in seven said they had contemplated divorce because of their other halves activities on Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter or WhatsApp.

Nearly a quarter or the 2,000 married Brits 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 was to find out who 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.

While 14 per cent said they looked specifically to identify evidence of infidelity.

The research

The research was commissioned by family law specialists Slater and Gordon who have seen an increase in the number of people citing social media use as a cause of divorce year on year.

A lawyer at Slater and Gordon said: “Social media can be a wonderful way of keeping in touch with family and friends, but it can also put added strain on a relationship.

“Five years ago Facebook was rarely mentioned in the context of a marriage ending, but now it has become common place for clients to cite social media use, or something they discovered on social media, as a reason for divorce.

“With more than 556 million people using Facebook each day, the way we live our lives, and our marriages, has drastically changed. We are finding that social media is the new marriage minefield.

“Social media, specifically pictures and posts on Facebook, are now being routinely raised in the course of divorce proceedings.

”It wasn’t just what their partner was doing on social media but also how long they spent on it that was likely to cause marital problems with Facebook usage topping the list of reasons couples argued over social media.

Arguments were also caused because of contact with an ex-partner, sending secret messages and posting inappropriate photos.

One in twenty even complained that their partner didn’t post any pictures of them together which made them upset.

Fifteen per cent of Brits considered social media to be dangerous to their marriage, with Facebook considered the most dangerous, followed by WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram.

Secrecy in social media

Unfortunately, one in ten admitted they hid images and posts from their partner, while eight per cent admitted to having secret social media accounts.

A fifth of respondents said they felt uneasy about their relationship after discovering something on their partner’s Facebook. 43 per cent said they confronted their spouse immediately about this, but 40 per cent said it took them some time before they felt comfortable to raise it with their partner.

While a third said they kept their social media log-in details a secret from their partners, 58 per cent said they knew their partner’s log-in details, even if their spouse wasn’t aware they knew them.

“Social media can also make a divorce more difficult. Divorce is already a stressful time for everyone involved and what is being posted on Facebook can antagonise families and make a speedy resolution more difficult to achieve.

“We are now actively advising our clients to be cautious when it comes to using Facebook and all forms of social media because of its potential to damage relationships.”

Top five tips for couples using social media

  • Don’t post in anger. Your post will be seen by all your friends, family and potentially millions of others. Even if you later delete your post, the damage will have been done.
  • Be respectful. Don’t complain about your partner or other family members online.
  • Be transparent. Check with your partner before you post images or information.
  • Check your privacy settings. You might think someone can’t see a post when they actually can.
  • Take a break and enjoy the moment. You don’t need to post everything on Facebook

At Slater and Gordon, our family law experts have the experience to help you deal with every scenario, contact us on 0330 041 5869.

All information was correct at the time of publication.

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