It was once something kept firmly behind closed doors for all but a handful of celebrities willing to wage even their most private battles on a public stage.
But increasing numbers of ordinary couples are opting to go through “public” divorces as a result of the rise of social media, according to lawyers.
Warring partners in their 30s and 40s, are actively aping celebrity culture by trading accusations openly to garner sympathy with friends and family and gain advantage ahead of any settlement, they say.
Family lawyers at JMW Solicitors, which handled more than 300 divorces over the course of the last year, have estimated that at least one in 10 cases now involve a spouse attacking the other on social media before they agree the terms upon which they separate.
In up to half of cases, clients now specifically cite fears over how they will be portrayed by their other half.
And in a small but growing number of cases courts are even stepping in to order spouses to desist from using social media as a weapon.
Cara Nuttall, a family lawyer at JMW, said many husbands and wives had admitted following the lead of high-profile marriage disputes in which individuals had found themselves vilified for alleged wrongdoing.
While celebrities or politicians might be trying to win the battle of public opinion to gain the support of fans or voters, ordinary people are also lining up teams of supporters among family, friends or colleagues for their own advantage.
“There is no doubt that a growing proportion of individuals of a certain age regard preserving their reputations among social and professional peers as one of the main concerns when they come to talk about getting divorced,” she said. “Roughly half of these men and women are clear about not wanting people to think badly of them.
“Furthermore, the number resorting to social media in order to win over friends, family and workmates seems to be growing year-on-year.
“Frequently, when challenged, they will refer to instances of rancorous celebrity divorces which they have read about in newspapers or magazines.
“They suggest that if it’s good enough for this actress or that pop star, then it’s good enough for them. “We are talking about individuals who are in their thirties and early forties and often professional but who don’t appear to appreciate the potential damage which can result from texting, tweeting or e-mailing a nasty comment in a moment of madness.
“In more than a dozen cases that we have handled, courts have even been forced to make orders in an attempt to curb both the volume and the unpleasant nature of exchanges across various social media platforms.”
In some recent cases, spouses have emailed their estranged partner’s family, friends and business associates, alleging infidelity, she added.
While most such cases are ultimately concluded on amicable terms, some are so focused on attacking each other that they did not comprehend the wider impact until it was too late.
“I had one case in which a couple’s children only learned how relations between their parents had deteriorated from fellow pupils once certain social media activity became a topic of discussion at the school gate,” she said.
“We are always at pains to point out that divorce proceedings should be as private as possible and that lashing out can not only ruin future relations between themselves and their soon-to-be former spouses but can irreparably damage dealings with children too.
“While it is only natural to seek support from loved ones, divorcing with dignity rather than discord tends to result in a better long-term outcome.”