ONE in three Australians (36 per cent) in committed relationships is snooping on their partners, according to a new Slater and Gordon family law poll.
The research found that those who admitted spying on their other half were more likely to secretly read their partner's text messages than to open their partner's mail or to eavesdrop on their partner's conversations.
The survey found the top five ways couples snoop on each other were:
1. Checking on text messages
2. Opening mail
3. Checking on Facebook account
5. Checking email
Slater and Gordon senior family lawyer Heather McKinnon said technology had given couples new ways to snoop on each other.
In the past suspicious couples would have followed each other around or eavesdropped on conversations or, in extreme cases, hired a private investigator.
"These days, young couples can simply check their partner's phone or Facebook status to see what their other half is up to."
Ms McKinnon said it was important for separated couples to understand that they were not required to build a case against their partner.
"While snooping may lead to the discovery that your partner has been unfaithful or has hidden something else from you, under Australia's no fault divorce laws such evidence is not required for the Family Court to grant a divorce."
She said social media was becoming an issue as people's relationships fall into strife.
"What I am hearing about more and more as a family lawyer is that when people think something has changed in their relationship or something is not right they go straight to social media to investigate," Ms McKinnon said.
"Because mobile phones and social media allow us to communicate around the clock with a range of people - everyone from family and friends to old school mates and work colleagues - couples are becoming more suspicious and some start snooping.
"But in my experience, communication trumps snooping."
The survey of 2008 Australians in married and de facto relationships found more women (41 per cent) than men (32 per cent) admit to spying on their partner.
Snooping was also more common among 25 to 34 year olds - 51 per cent in that age group confessed to prying into their partner's private life compared to 18 per cent of over 55s.
Similar research conducted in the UK on behalf of Slater and Gordon found just under half of Brits admitted they had secretly checked their partners Facebook account and one in five had gone on to argue about what they discovered.
The UK research also revealed one in seven Brits had contemplated divorce because of their partners' activities on Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter or What'sApp.