Advertising
Advertising

Facebook is Everywhere: Even in Your Divorce

Facebook is Everywhere: Even in Your Divorce

When a private investigator failed repeatedly to deliver a divorce summons to her husband, nurse Ellanora Baidoo asked the judge if she could get the job done via Facebook. Avoiding being served papers has been a common way to delay or stop a legal action and one that Baidoo’s husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, appeared to be employing.

When a process server is unable to contact a defendant, laws state that notice must be left at a last-known address or published in the newspaper. These two methods do not guarantee the defendant will know about the legal action, and he or she could use that in court to proclaim innocence.

The Manhattan judge who ruled in the wife’s favor explained, “The past decade has also seen the advent and ascendancy of social media . . . the next frontier in developing law of the service of process over the Internet is the use of social media sites as forums through which a summons can be delivered.” In England, serving court documents via Facebook has been accepted since 2012.

Advertising

Social Media and Infidelity

Facebook: The Virtual Pick-Up Lounge that’s Always Open

Convenient process serving isn’t the only way Facebook has been impacting modern divorce. According to Pew Study Research Center study, the Internet and American Life, one in five adults uses Facebook to flirt.  Fast-forward from that first innocent-seeming innuendo to a co-worker and it’s no surprise one-third of divorce petitions in the UK mentioned Facebook.

A 2015 study of 2,000 British citizens found one in seven respondents considered divorce because of their partner’s inappropriate activity on Facebook and other social media channels. The study also found that 25% had at least one argument a week related to social media use and 17% fought about it every day. In a chilling finding, 58% of respondents reported that they knew their partner’s passwords, either with or without the partner’s knowledge. Clearly, for a significant proportion of couples, Facebook detracts from rather than adds to their primary relationship.

Not surprising, American couples behave similarly to those across the pond. A survey conducted by American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported 81% of attorneys had seen an increase in mentions of Facebook and other social media networks in divorce petitions. The issues can be endless.

Advertising

Specific Facebook-related reasons for divorce mentioned in petitions include:

  • inappropriate messages
  • separated spouses posting nasty comments about each other
  • Facebook friends reporting spouses’ bad behavior

Couples worldwide haven’t yet grasped the impact of Facebook on their marriage. National Sleep Foundation studies reveal that 95% of Americans use electronic devices within one hour of bedtime. We’re combining activity on iPhones and iPads with slightly more passive television viewing as we multi-task. While the habit may have started innocently, Facebook updates and friend requests quickly lure us away from checking on family across the country or searching for a great restaurant for couples’ night for the upcoming weekend.

When Facebook Documents Too Much Evidence

Facebooking Illegal and Inappropriate Activity

Judges are allowing documents to be served via Facebook, and they use updates, profiles, friend connections and more from the channel as well. Petitioners and defendants trying to support their claims often find themselves undone by Facebook evidence.

Advertising

Some examples of real evidence attorneys have presented or face include:

  • a selfie photo of a marijuana-denying mother smoking a joint
  • a match.com profile of a custody-seeking man claiming he has no children
  • statements in updates and profiles that indicate personality disorders and anger issues

Once it’s on the Internet, it’s there forever.

Facebook Dos and Don’ts during Divorce

Don’t post while tired, emotionally overwrought or drinking

While Facebook can feel like a forum of friends to whom you turn for sympathy and support, it can have more negative impacts. Extreme emotion, fatigue and alcohol render reality in all kinds of exaggerated shapes and colors. Do yourself a favor and find another way to vent when in these conditions.

Advertising

Instead of venting your frustrations on your social media, use your social network to relieve stress. Get together in person with friends rather than connect with people via social media. Consider divorce support groups where people experiencing the same issues and feelings can lean on each other.

Consider, too, that messages posted to your wall may evoke sympathy and support from SOME friends, but don’t forget that you’re sending these to acquaintances and friends of friends as well. The majority may stay silent, but they will judge nonetheless. They may not see the situation as you do.

Turn off location-indicators

If you “check-in” at bars, concerts or other venues that will render a reaction in an ex and his or her friends, life becomes fraught with even more conflict. A screenshot of this “check-in” could appear in court, putting you in a poorer negotiating position for alimony, child support and custody.

Consider Unfriending Some

If you’ve had a Facebook account for over three years, you probably still have connections there you don’t even remember friending. Some of these people may take your ex-spouse’s side in the divorce. Even if they strive to stay neutral, it may be the time to review and strategically cut a few. You can send a polite message apologizing and remarking that you feel uncomfortable with the Facebook connection at this time.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via flickr.com

More by this author

Peter Mueller

Founder of Father's Rights Law Center

dating after divorce How Honest Should You Be With Your Kids About Dating After Divorce? online dating Divorced Dads: Approaching Online Dating for the First Time? single dads 4 Smart Ways for Single Dads to Balance Work and Life dad and daughter The Single Dad’s Guide to Hair Styles for Girls teenage daughter 9 Smart Ways Single & Divorced Dads Can Connect with Teen Daughters

Trending in Communication

1 19 Golden Pieces of Relationship Advice From the Experts 2 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 3 How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship 4 How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future 5 This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

Advertising

The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

Advertising

If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

Advertising

In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

Advertising

It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

More Articles About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next