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Social Media - Fresh Fodder To Stoke The Flames Of Divorce

Social media - it's instantaneous, convenient, free and the seemingly perfect tool for parents to keep in touch with their children across long distances. But as divorce issues move through the 21st century, Skype, Facebook and other online communication methods are showing their potential for re-igniting disputes between separated and divorced parents.

Fighting Over The Minutiae Of Technology Use

The issues were highlighted in one recent case in which father, Ryan McGrath, contended that ex-spouse, Elizabeth Becker, was in contempt of a court order that provided McGrath with weekly Skype calls to their nine-year-old daughter.

The girl became increasingly resistant to the online calls. So, Becker took her for counselling. But, when the mother followed the therapist's suggestion that she facilitate the daughter's participation by first engaging with her ex-spouse, McGrath objected. Yet, the father remained fixed in his refusal to call the mother to coordinate the calls.

Justice Kenneth Hood ruled that Becker "is not in contempt of any order. Rather, the [father] should act more reasonably in assisting to make the calls happen."

Balanced View Of Social Media Needed

When used as a complement to, rather than the primary means of contact, technology may prove useful in connecting absent parents with their children. But, as with any other provision contained in court orders or parenting plans, flexibility may help fend off accusations of obstructive behaviour or the other thorny issues that online communication is showing the potential to ignite.

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