Suffice it to say that technology and social media have greatly developed in recent years. Their impact is not limited to our social lives. As most Canadians use one form of social media or another, this article will address how technology and social media are powerful tools that can greatly assist the divorce process, albeit not without its hindrances.
With the use of Internet, married spouses can easily find information about obtaining a divorce and even access the forms required to bring a divorce application. As such, savvy individuals can now bring their own divorce applications without requiring the services of a lawyer. However, the experience and expertise of a lawyer cannot be replaced by the information found online.
While the Internet offers the allure of engaging in cost-saving self-help, this has resulted in rejected court applications and perplexity through an already stressful time, as self-represented individuals try to traverse the complex legal system. Of course, technology has also made the divorce process simpler as a quick online search for “divorce” could lead one in the direction of a competent lawyer to handle such a matter!
Social media has impacted the divorce process as well. According to Canada’s federally legislated Divorce Act, to become divorced, the wedded parties must demonstrate that there has been a breakdown of the marriage. To evidence a breakdown of the marriage, there are three recognized grounds for divorce – separation, adultery, and cruelty.
Separated parties need only show that they have been separated for one year before obtaining a marriage. However, this one-year period may be waived if a party can successfully prove adultery or cruelty on a balance of probabilities. Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse. A divorce may be granted on the grounds of cruelty, if one can satisfy the court that they have been treated with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render cohabitation intolerable, by their spouse.
Anything posted on social media is out for display for the world to see, regardless of one’s privacy settings. Many individuals may not realize that social media posts can and are often used as evidence in legal proceedings. For couples that air out their laundry online, it is not uncommon for social media posts to be used as evidence in efforts to satisfy the court of adultery and cruelty. Photos and videos posted on Instagram or Facebook are frequently used by parties in attempts to prove adultery. Although inconclusive of adultery, a harmless picture of you holding your friend’s hand can easily be misconstrued and you may suddenly find yourself defending against a claim of adultery. The same may apply to flirtatious conversations within public posts.
The pervasiveness of technology and social media impact our everyday lives and something as personal as divorce proceedings are no exception.