Social Affair - A WGEM News in-depth report - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Social Affair - A WGEM News in-depth report


(WGEM) -Statistics show that half of all marriages in the United States will fall apart.

Divorce lawyers say they're presenting more and more evidence from social media, where cheating often begins.

Bryan and Nikki Strackeljahn met the same way a lot of modern couples do, over the Internet.

"We met on a Yahoo chatroom, way back in the day when Yahoo was new, and it was the 'Kenny South Park Yahoo Chatroom.'"

After years of dating, a wedding, and a baby girl named Sydney, the web is still a part of their life. They use Face book to check statuses, post pictures of baby Sydney and catch up with old friends.

But the Tackle say they have clear online boundaries, something divorce lawyers say other couples on Facebook don't have.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 60 percent of divorce proceedings include evidence from Facebook.

"Infidelity is as old as human nature," Divorce Attorney Jack Inghram said.

How do you really know if there's an affair going on, even if it's just over social media? Ingrham says many people don't.

"More often than not, when clients come in here, they don't know if there's an affair going on," Ingrham said. "When I hear the facts, oftentimes I suggest maybe the other guy's having an affair, or I ask, 'Are you having an affair?'"

John Wood Community College Psychology Instructor Bein Reinhardt says affairs are often sparked by people wanting to feel better about their lives.

"Possibly provide some excitement, interest," Reinhardt said. "It can also distract them from the day to day hassles or stressors of taking care of kids and paying the bills and dealing with deadlines at work."

Reinhardt says social media sites make it even more convenient.

"It's always possible to privately message, not sharing passwords with spouses or boyfriends and girlfriends. It makes it easier to keep it private without leaving a paper trail," Reinhardt said.

And as more and more cheating begins online, there are now new websites aimed at those cheaters.

Sites like offer advice about whether or not to break things off forever. Family counselor Michelle Bartlow helps couples deal with infidelity.

"One person who's broken the trust has to then rebuild the trust, and the person who has been betrayed must allow the person to rebuild the trust," Bartlow said.

But, Bartlow says that work could take years. As for the Strackeljahns, they plan to stick with being open about their online activity.

"If you trust your spouse, then they should be able to look at your Facebook. You should be able to give them your password. It's not something that should be kept secret from them."


Inghram says that many times social media evidence is used in child custody cases, to make the other parent look unfit. But he says, by law, there are stipulations.

"In Illinois, you can be a great father, a great parent, a great father, a great mother, and yet still be a wild partier and promiscuous," Inghram said. "The only time that any behavior like that would affect the custody issue is if it somehow effects the child."

Inghram says an affair has no bearing in dividing up property or in paying child support.

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