17 Sep Does Facebook Prevent Or Assist Cheating?
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently made an interesting statement.
Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook actually helped expose cheaters. He said that women all over the world had thanked him, as through Facebook, it is now “harder for cheating men to live double lives.”
A frightening 30% of Tinder users are married.
Unfortunately, suspicions about a partner’s social media accounts are often justified and can lead to a family law divorce.
One in ten adults admits to hiding messages and posts from their partners. One in three family law divorces now start as online affairs.
With smartphones and social media apps, it’s never been easier for dissatisfied spouses to look for a new relationship, get in contact with an ex, or seek out a fling.
Does Facebook Cause Relationship Problems?
There have been a number of studies that show Facebook and social media has actually increased the opportunities for infidelity.
“For people who are morally willing to and motivated to, social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage in unfaithful behavior,” adds Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles.
“You don’t even have to find somebody who is in your neighbourhood. You can flirt and exchange sexual communication with anyone who is willing to do it on planet Earth who is holding a smartphone.”
Facebook also makes it easier to reach out to old flames, ex’s from the past, and the one that ‘just got away.’
So why would you stay in a relationship where your partner has cheated on you on multiple occasions?
Relationship experts say there are a number of reasons.
Marriages are about more than just loving each other, experts say, and love isn’t the only reason people stay with a partner who has been unfaithful.
“Some people are afraid of negative consequences of possibly losing the relationship, such as financial instability, impact on children, or change in social status or network,” says Elaina* (not real name), a client who agreed to speak to Justice Family Lawyers.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen to me financially, or what will happen with my children. Rather than confront that problem, I kept putting it off and kept a blind eye,” says Elaina.
“If my partner betrays me because my partner does not love me enough or does not care about me and the family, that’s pretty hard to get over,” Elaina says.
It’s not only what a person does on social media, but also how much time they spend doing it that can create conflict.
Excessive time spent on social media has been shown to negatively impact romantic relationships.
Can Facebook Be Used In Australian Family Court?
It is not unusual for evidence to be filed in Family Law Divorce proceedings to have screenshots of Facebook posts attached.
Common photos that are used for evidence show a parent drinking or partying when the children are in their care.
This is then used to show that the parent is not child focused and an incapable parent.
Photos of boats, cars and properties also can be used to show that the other party could be hiding assets from the court.
Other Facebook post’s that criticise a former partner can be used as evidence that the parent is not encouraging the relationship between that parent and the children.
Publishing Proceedings On Facebook
Section 121 of the Family Law Act makes it an offence to publish information in a public forum about Family Law proceedings. This includes publishing on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
This offence is punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment.
In a 2017 Family Court matter, the father and his relatives had posted comments and statuses on Facebook in which they criticised and disparaged the Court, the Judge, the mother, the Independent Children’s Lawyer and the experts in the proceedings.
The Court ordered that the father and his relatives remove all references to the proceedings from their Facebook pages.
A further Order was made for a Marshall of the Court to monitor the father and his family’s Facebook pages for the following 2 years to ensure they were compliant with that Order.
In the event that they did not adhere to this Order, the matter was to be referred to the Australian Federal Police.