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Is Facebook a cause of divorce in Virginia?

There are a great number of factors that can lead to divorce for married couples here in Virginia. Because Virginia law allows both fault and no-fault divorce, couples do not always have to pinpoint, in their divorce filings, the exact reasons for ending their marriages. In some cases, however, it may be wise to assert fault against one's spouse during divorce proceedings.

Grounds for a fault-based divorce may include things like adultery, desertion, a felony conviction or cruelty. One type of activity that is not exactly a legal ground for divorce has been implicated in an increasing number of divorce filings in recent years: social media use. According to one 2012 study, in 2011 Facebook was mentioned in one-third of all divorce filings.

A newer study, which is slated to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, has also found that Facebook use may be linked to divorce. The study reports that people who use Facebook very frequently--checking it more often than once per hour--are more likely to experience a related negative impact on their relationships. This can include cheating and divorce.

There are several reasons that the researchers believe excessive Facebook use can lead to divorce, including "Facebook-induced jealousy" resulting in conflicts. Facebook can induce jealousy for a spouse that follows his or her spouse very closely on the social networking site. Additionally, because Facebook allows people to stay connected or reconnect with various people, including ex-romantic partners, it can lead to cheating.

Whether or not Facebook is a cause of one's divorce here in Virginia, evidence from the social networking website may surface during divorce proceedings. For example, abusive or derogatory status updates about one's spouse might later be mentioned in court. Photos and other information that is posted online might also be used as evidence against a person when it comes to child custody or property division disputes.

As with most things, this should remind Virginia residents to use Facebook in moderation. And, for those who are currently going through a divorce, it may be wise to avoid discussing the divorce or one's soon-to-be ex on Facebook.

Source: Huffington Post, "Facebook, Divorce Linked In New Study," June 6, 2013

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