Studies Examine Social Media Use in High Conflict Divorces

  • The University of Missouri did a study examining how Twitter caused interpersonal romantic relationship outcomes.
  • The Journal of Family Studies published a study examining high conflict divorce and social media use among conflicting co-parents.
  • Divorcing co-parents will still have to coexist beyond their divorce and conflict on social media.

Divorce can be a messy experience. With emotions running high and so much of one’s future at stake, it can cause the need to vent one’s frustrations and feelings, and given the technological advances in information, social interaction, and general venting, you as a divorcing individual, may think about airing your grievances, like it is Festivus, on social media.

Given the medium in question being willing and able to house all of your thoughts and feelings regarding the difficult issues that you may face during the course of any divorce or custody issue, it may seem like a good idea to take advantage of the platform and its ability to connect your thoughts and feelings with others who are able to listen.

However, utilizing the stage for venting is not a smart move during a divorce or custody case, especially given how social media may have been the start of how you got to a divorce in the first place.

University of Missouri case

A recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri examined how Twitter, as a social networking site, influenced negative interpersonal relationship outcomes. It looked at the mediational effect, as it pertains to the relationship between active Twitter use and negative romantic relationship outcomes.

The results of the study found that Twitter-related conflict mediated the relationship between active Twitter use and negative relationship outcomes. However, the length of the romantic relationship did not moderate the indirect effect on the relationship between active Twitter use and negative relationship outcomes.

The study saw that active Twitter use led to greater amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn led to infidelity, divorce, and breakups.

While Twitter may have been the social media avenue used in this study, it is not necessarily a platform built for the maximum amount of information sharing. As a society, Facebook has taken the throne and claimed that as one of its primary functions among friend groups.

It gets worse when there are children involved. Preteens and teens have a difficult enough time on social media as is, but adding a parental divorce into the mix, it adds an additional layer of conflict that can spread to the actual divorce case and to their co-parenting dynamic.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Journal of Family Studies study

A study published in the Journal of Family Studies examined how conflicts between parents are maintained and/or escalate and how social media and their co-parenting relationship played a factor in the resulting relationship changes.

In the study, 136 divorced parents showed that perceived social network disapproval was related to co-parenting conflicts and that the co-parents’ tendency to forgive one another, even if it was partially, explained this relationship.

This aspect fuels the second part of the study, where 110 parents were referred to children’s mental health care because the well-being of their shared children was severely compromised by the severity of the conflicts between the parents.

In both parts of the study, perceived social network disapproval and co-parenting conflicts were positively related, which caused the relationship to be mediated by forgiveness. In addition, perceived social network disapproval was negatively related to forgiveness, which was in turn, negatively related to more parental conflict.

This study displayed the clear connection between the relationship between divorced co-parents being positively and negatively affected by social media use, which directly effects the well-being of their shared children.


In examining these studies, you get a better grasp of what to avoid in social media use, especially in cases of high-conflict divorce or custody cases. These are delicate situations that have a longer lasting life than just the cases themselves.

These co-parents are going to be dealing with one another in the lives of their children for the rest of their lives, and it is in the best interest of their shared children to find a way to be civil with one another and not cause conflict on social media.

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