The internet busted up my marriage: A WAFF 48 News special report

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - If your status is 'separated' or 'going through a divorce' you might want to stay off Facebook.

Social networking sites are causing a sharp increase in divorce and anything you say on your Facebook page or Myspace page can be held against you in court.

Facebook is an incredible resource for finding classmates, co-workers or making new friends. It's also a way to rekindle old flames. For a lot of couples, that's landed them in divorce court and given jilted spouses evidence of their partner's adultery.

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Sue's* life started to unravel in October last year. She went to her home computer to log into her Facebook account. She quickly realized she was browsing her husband's page.

"I went to his inbox and there were messages from a female talking about how she missed him and how she couldn't wait until she saw him again," said Sue. "Details about where they had met and things they had done."

Sue's husband was carrying on an affair with a woman he dated briefly in high school. The woman moved away and years later the two reconnected.

"He would wait until I went to bed and they would start chatting," explained Sue.

Sue says the conversations included personal details about the couple's marital problems and intimate, often graphic, on-line chats.

"I could not believe the words that came out of my own husbands mouth. It was disgusting, vulgar," said Sue.

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Sue fought the urge to reveal her husbands indiscretion. She kept quiet while collecting secret emails, chats and status updates. Two days after her birthday, Sue confronted her husband. She says at first he denied the adulterous accusations, then Sue showed him the proof.

"All he could say is he was sorry. I think he's sorry he got caught. He's not sorry for what he's done," she said.

Sue separated from her husband and filed for divorce using what she found on his Facebook page against him in court.

"Those statements become important in litigation," said Decatur attorney Brian Oakes.

Oakes is not an attorney for either party, but divorce cases are a large part of his practice. He's seen social media sites increasingly come between a once committed couple.

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"People will put anything and say anything on social media. They are simply cutting their own legs out from under them in many cases. The more they talk the better," said Oakes.

Before the internet, Oakes says extramarital affairs were difficult to prove unless the spouse caught their spouse's fling on tape. Now with sites like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, private issues become public.

"It's like theater of the living. You have people who avail themselves to Facebook, do not screen what they are saying and it often times comes back to bite them," explained Oakes.

Sue says Facebook ruined her marriage. She lost her home, had to change jobs and now she's  starting life all over.

"I thought we were stronger than that. No one thinks it's going to happen to them. I've told so many women since then, if your boyfriend has an account you demand the password. If they don't have anything to hide, he won't mind giving you the password," said Sue.

Of course social networking sites are not the root cause of failed relationships and divorce. These sites are merely tools that make it a temptation to re-connect with a former love.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

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