Does social media use harm marriage? It can certainly harm divorce

A new study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that Twitter use led to negative relationship outcomes, including infidelity and divorce. The study looked at 518 couples who both used Twitter, and concluded that "active Twitter use leads to greater amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce."

While the results of one study should be taken with a grain of salt, family law attorneys have long known that social media use during divorce can harm a client's legal standing in court. A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that 80 percent of divorce lawyers have seen an "exponential" increase in the amount of evidence found through social media use.

Negative comments bring negative results

Divorce brings up a host of emotions, some of which can be negative. Feeling angry during divorce is normal; unfortunately, Facebook posts and Tweets can be fair game in divorce court. That means angry comments about a spouse, a judge or divorce negotiations may backfire.

During divorce, a couple must resolve a variety of issues. Property division in divorce can be contentious, as can spousal support. Social media use can impact these negotiations. It can be difficult to prove poverty after posting a Facebook photo showing a new car, for example. Tweeting about spending habits may make a soon-to-be ex reluctant to part with valuable assets. Social media can also be useful to partners looking to find hidden assets: A Tweet about a job promotion or a big sale may reveal that one party to the divorce is not disclosing assets.

Child custody and visitation are usually the number one priority in a divorce with minor children involved. While a person going through divorce does not need to live like a monk, photos and Tweets that show alcohol or drug use may give a negative impression to the court, making it less likely to get time with children.

Private messages may not be private

One of the reasons social media is so popular is because it gives people the ability to instantaneously react to what's going on in their daily lives. But an ill-considered Facebook post or Tweet during divorce can have long-term effects even after the split is final. Even texts and emails can be used as evidence.

Generally, parties in a divorce should forego social media use; if that is impossible, then social media should be used with care, knowing that anything posted could wind up in front of a family law judge.

People considering divorce or in the divorce process should speak with an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss their legal options.