Facebook cited in 1/3 of divorce cases - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Facebook cited in 1/3 of divorce cases

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

How many exes from high school or college are on your Facebook friend list? It's estimated that Facebook is now cited in about a third of contested divorce cases, and divorce lawyers are actually changing their business model to keep up with social media.

It all boils down to one question: can you really be "just friends" with somebody you used to love?

The vows read "Until death do us part," but it's a well known fact that almost 50% of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce. In a world where social media is king, the temptation to find someone new has never been greater.

"It's pretty common practice for there to be some exhibit that comes from Facebook," attorney David DeFazio said. Facebook has changed the way he does business.

Social media has given us all access to people from our past that otherwise we might never have contact with again. Maybe it's the girl with big hair and big dreams you took to the prom back in the 80s, or the guy in college you thought was "the one" but you somehow let get away.

DeFazio has seen it all, firsthand. "I had a client come to me who didn't know where her husband went," he said. DeFazio hired a private detective to follow the husband home from work. He was living with a woman who turned out to be one of his old flames. When they checked the woman's Facebook page, there was a startling revelation: "The woman who he was staying with posted that her boyfriend of two years, and gave my client's husband's name, and her were going to be married in May," DeFazio said.

"On Facebook, I had found that he had contact with several women." One notably was a girl - a woman he had previously dated, he said.

A woman we'll identify as Mary knows the heartache all too well. Her husband was a habitual Facebook cheater. She found private messages that her husband dismissed as nothing more than a joke - harmless flirtatious banter.

"'I'll come give you a massage when your husband's not there,' and 'oh, my wife doesn't know - just tell your wife that we're friends, and that you're happily married,'" the messages read.

Then Mary made another discover, and there was no doubt as to what her husband was up to.

"Women would send naked pictures of themselves," she said. "They would send shots of their crotch and their boobs, and he had several shots of his penis on there, fully exposed, handling it erect." When Mary found those pictures, she decided it was time for a divorce.

DeFazio says don't blame Facebook for infidelity. People who want to cheat will cheat, but he does admit that social media makes it easier.

"Ten years ago, you never knew what happened to the person you went to high school with, the missed opportunity you thought you had. And now people are staying in touch and rekindling those, sometimes," DeFazio said.

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