Divorce in the digital age

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Separation and divorce involves a great deal of hurt, pain and anxiety. It is good to talk about your feelings, but in the age of social media, are we at risk of sharing too much personal information in an impersonal way?

As a family lawyer and a social media user, I have experienced the impact of social media and the internet on the way we communicate with each other. E-mail is a standard form of communication now and a discussion which might have once happened by letter over the course of a week can now take place in minutes.

In recent years, there has been an increase in family cases where things said on social media sites are referred to in divorce proceedings. This can increase tension, making discussions about a couple’s financial circumstances, or the arrangements for their children, more difficult. Abusive messages on social media sites, even if they are not sent directly to the other person, can amount to harassment.

A recent study shows that social media sites such as facebook and twitter make it harder to move on, prolonging the grieving process. Looking at pictures of an ex, reading daily updates about what they are doing, delays closure and makes it harder to forgive and forget.

My advice to clients about discussing separation via social media is: don’t do it! It is too easy to fire out a message and then spend a long time later regretting what you said. Text messages can also create more problems than they solve. They are usually short and to the point, and can be easily misinterpreted.

It goes without saying that the best way of resolving issues at the end of a relationship is through open communication. As a Collaborative Lawyer, I encourage all my clients to think about whether it is possible to have a face-to-face discussion with their ex-partner about their financial situation or the arrangements concerning their children. If necessary, these discussions can take place with the support of a mediator or a lawyer.

When people can talk to each other, a solution can usually be found more quickly and this can result in legal costs being lower. When it comes to resolving issues after a relationship has ended, the traditional forms of communication are still the best. After all, it’s good to talk.

This article was previously published in the Eastern Daily Press.



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