When it Comes to Facebook & Divorce, the Numbers are Fuzzy


Family attorneys in Pasadena have certainly seen an increase in divorce cases that involve social networking sites like Facebook. Recently websites and major news outlets have been reporting startling numbers and statistics regarding Facebook and divorce. Some reports claim that one in five divorces are linked to Facebook - and others say the number of divorces involving social media sites is much higher.

Experts, however, are now saying those widely-reported statistics are way off.

Carl Bialik, who writes a statics and numbers column for The Wall Street Journal, says the tossed-around statistics are frequently misunderstood. The one in five number caught fire last summer when Divorce Online released the statistic after it conducted a survey of the site's users. Bialik says the number is a generalization, especially considering "the site's users tend to be young, owing to its online presence and that it is likely to appeal to people seeking relatively simple divorces, without thorny issues such as child custody."

Mark Keenan, managing director of Divorce Online, admits that this number isn't a true representation of all divorces. Also poking holes in the figure could be the fact that it originated in the United Kingdom, where no-fault divorces aren't allowed so divorcees looking for a reason might be quick to point to Facebook as a cause. And then there's the issue of general misinformation around the statistic. CNN said it originated from a survey of 5,000 lawyers (even though it did not) while Loyola University attributed the stat to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Regardless of how accurate the statistics are, lawyers and legal experts have noticed a spike in the number of cases involving social media, online dating and Facebook. But the phenomenon of cheating on your spouse using technology isn't a new concept.

"People have met online for years," said Randall M. Kessler, chair-elect of the family law section of the American Bar Association. "Using the Internet to create relationships is not anything new. It predates Facebook."