Social network cited in divorces

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FACEBOOK and gaming are being cited as grounds for divorce in a growing number of Wigan marriages.

A local family law expert said today that, as is happening across the rest of the country, the social network and folk’s modern-day obsessions with on-screen gambling and computer games are wrecking more and more relationships.

Rekindling friendships with ex-partners are among the problems, so too the remorseless hours that husbands or wives are spending glued to a screen either frittering away the family budget or zapping aliens rather than communicating with the rest of the family.

National research shows that one in every five divorce case now identifies Facebook or a variety of gaming activities for estrangement.

E-mails, photographs and “wall posts” are now regularly held up as examples of unreasonable behaviour or affairs or as evidence that contradicts information given by the other party in court.

The latter can include statements made by a party about their financial circumstances or living arrangements.

Mandy Rimmer, partner and head of the family and relationships team at Wigan-based law firm Stephensons, said: “Text messaging was the original technological scourge of family law but social networking sites have in many ways superseded it now.

“We get cases of people spending hours on the internet, getting back in touch with previous partners.

“Parties involved in a court case should be particularly careful about what information they allow to be published.

“Privacy settings can easily be set up to ensure that personal information does not get into the wrong hands.”

The firm is also reporting that information from social networking sites is also being considered by judges in child welfare and custody cases.

Compromising or disparaging photographs or statements can be used as evidence of unfitness as a parent.

However, before considering submitting such information, advice should be obtained about whether it will be admissible.

This may involve ascertaining whether it has been obtained in a fair and lawful manner. Information in the public domain is likely to be admissible.

But information obtained from someone’s personal inbox or by hacking into their personal Facebook account may not be allowed.

Mandy said she thought many people didn’t appreciate the impact of information on Facebook nor how widely or easily accessible it can be.