Divorce lawyers claim that the explosion in the popularity of websites such as Facebook and Bebo is tempting to people to cheat on their partners. One law firm, which specializes in divorce, claimed almost one in five petitions they processed cited Facebook.
Suspicious spouses have also used the websites to find evidence of flirting and even affairs which have led to divorce. Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online said, "I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was I was really surprised to see 20 percent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook. The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to."
Flirty emails and messages found on Facebook pages are increasingly being cited as evidence of unreasonable behaviour. In fact, computer firms have even cashed in by developing software allowing suspicious spouses to electronically spy on someone's online activities.
One 35-year-old woman even discovered her husband was divorcing her via Facebook. Conference organiser Emma Brady was distraught to read that her marriage was over when he updated his status on the site to read: "Neil Brady has ended his marriage to Emma Brady."
Around 14 million Britons are believed to regularly use social networking sites to communicate with old friends or make new ones. The popularity of the Friends Reunited website several years ago was also blamed for a surge in divorces as bored husbands and wives used it to contact old flames and first loves.