Divorcing couples told to stay away from 'bitter twitter' rows


By Christine Lavelle

AN EDINBURGH law firm has advised feuding couples to stay away from social networking sites until their divorces have been settled.

A family law solicitor at Gibson Kerr said the trend of using websites like Facebook and Twitter to complain about partners during divorce proceedings is a phenomenon which is sweeping the UK and the United States.

Partner Fiona Rasmusen said: “With social media sites like Facebook and Twitter becoming more and more popular, it’s easy for people going through a divorce to be tempted to share their feelings online.

“In some cases they may post information about the stress they’re under, but equally it could be derogatory or unpleasant accusations leveled against their partner.

“Divorce is a highly charged and emotional time, but it’s important not to turn the situation into a public slagging match that is played out for everyone to see online.

“If the situation is allowed to escalate, then it can lead to added tension between the divorcing partners and even prolong their settlement.”

Partners at the firm are urging their clients to steer away from ‘bitter twitter’ rows, and think couples should consider an internet truce until divorce proceedings are complete.

Ms Rasmusen said it is also important to think about the impact these online outlets could have on children, particularly in the case of an on-going custody battle.

Gibson Kerr is now advising its divorce clients about the pitfalls of using social media sites as an outlet for their frustration during divorce proceedings.

She said: “In the US – where there have been a number of prominent ‘bitter twitters’ in the news recently – some lawyers are starting to look at factoring in restrictions on social media use as part of the divorce proceedings.

“These agreements are not legally binding yet, but they are becoming more popular with couples who want to terminate their union as amicably as possible.

“Although we’re still some way off from seeing similar agreements actually being discussed in court in Scotland, it is still important to highlight the ‘bitter twitter’ issue to people going through divorce and to show how it can have a negative effect on them.

“Therefore, we have already started advising estranged couples to agree not to post pictures of their new flames online, or not to share information about their children on their Facebook pages – or even to declare a ‘tweet’ truce.

“It’s an extra bit of guidance that we hope will make things a little easier during what is a very stressful and emotional time.”

The trend has already been witnessed among celebrities, including Frasier star Kelsey Grammar, who posted a series of personal tweets about his ongoing divorce case earlier this year.

Gibson Kerr has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years and is run by husband and wife team Scott and Fiona Rasmusen, who provide advice on family law issues.