In the digital-technological age, most people have multiple social media accounts and use at least one on a regular basis. As a whole, these sites function well as a way to connect with family and friends, sharing thoughts, discussions, photos, and videos from our daily lives. While social media usually does not pose a legal issue, you may want to think twice before sharing or Tweeting during a divorce.
Unfortunately, although many people fail to realize it, there are ways in which social media posts can alter or even ruin your standing during divorce proceedings. There are many potential roadblocks during the legal divorce process, and one wrong social media move can put your entire future in jeopardy.
Social Media Is Public
One of the most essential concepts to understand when it comes to social media is that your information is not private. Many people share public content on social media without realizing who may be able to view it. Even if you are sending a private message or posting to a small group of followers, it is likely that an attorney or private investigator can gain access to your post or profile if they want to. In addition, the owners and designers of most social media sites can access a wealth of your information with ease, including conversations written in confidence. Alternatively, a social media friend or follower can easily screenshot your information and show it to whomever they please, including your former spouse or their attorney. Understanding the public nature of social media is the foundation of being safe online during a divorce.
Avoid Ruining Your Ex’s Reputation
Divorces are not easy. Even when divorce seems to be the best decision for your family, the process can be stressful and often brings out the worst in those involved. For some people, this can inspire a lot of angry, spiteful feelings that are very uncomfortable to keep to oneself.
Though you may be tempted to vent, it is important that you refrain from doing so on social media. One rude comment can easily get back to your spouse, even if the two of you are no longer connected online, and the resulting enmity can complicate your divorce. Contentious divorces make for longer legal battles, and it is best to keep quiet about your ex and your divorce online. If you need to vent, call up a trusted friend and vent in private.
Separate Social Media and Money
Divorce can affect nearly every part of your life, not the least of which is money. You are expected to be honest about your income and assets during the divorce process so that the court can properly divide property between you. Posting photos of expensive dinners, fancy vacations, new cars, shopping sprees, and the like can cause your spouse to call your income statements into question.
Their attorney may even use social media posts as evidence to adjust the divorce settlement. Even if you are completely transparent and truthful about your income, an opposing attorney may attempt to negatively portray your representation of your finances. It is best to avoid posting on social media altogether, especially if spousal or child support are a factor in your divorce.
Consider Your Children
One of the most hurtful ways that your social media can be used against you is to undermine your authority as a parent. The court’s number one priority during child custody and child support negotiations to benefit the health, happiness, and safety of the children involved. If your spouse is seeking leverage to win additional custody of your children, their attorney can easily access your social media posts in an attempt to prove that argument.
For example, if you have a friend over for a beer and post a photo on social media, your spouse’s attorney may use it to say that you risk your child’s safety by drinking alcohol. Even such an innocuous post as taking your children out to a restaurant could cause the attorney to scrutinize the type of food, the time of day, and the location of the restaurant. Whether you are engaging in negative behavior or not, your spouse’s attorney will use everything that they can to win advantages for their client.
Avoid Sharing Your Location
Most social media sites have the option to check in at various locations online. Similar to the above examples, your time and location can potentially be used against you in divorce proceedings. For example, if you check in at a nightclub on a Wednesday night, your spouse’s attorney may try to claim that you are an unfit parent for drinking alcohol on a school night. If your location indicates that you are on vacation, your spouse’s attorney can use that to say that you have more money than you let on.
Some apps even provide your location to friends when you aren’t sharing or posting anything, which can prove dangerous if you have a restraining order or just escaped a domestic violence situation with your ex-spouse. If you continue to use social media during your divorce process, be sure your location is off altogether.
Be Wary of Your Relationship Status
Avoid changing your Facebook relationship status to reflect a new relationship during the divorce process. Do not post any photos about dates or new significant others or post explicitly about your divorce. Your eagerness to move on may be misconstrued. Stick with changing your status to nothing and avoid mention of any relationship until the divorce is final.
How To Use Social Media Wisely
The best way to avoid each of these potential issues is to deactivate or pause your social media accounts while your divorce negotiations are in progress. This is the only way to be certain your social media is not undermining your case. However, if you must stay on social media, there are a few ways to make sure you do so safely:
- Come to an agreement with your ex-spouse (if your attorneys are there, even better) about what is appropriate to post online when it comes to the children. Focus on following these guidelines and posting neutral content about your kids.
- Avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want a judge to see.
- Browse social media with the intent to read what others share, but keep your own posts to a minimum
- Get in the habit of texting or calling friends and family when you have something funny to share or email them any links or photos you think they’d like. There are many safer alternatives to posting or sharing on social media.
Stange Law Firm has served Wichita residents with skilled divorce and family law services for nearly two decades. When you need comprehensive, compassionate legal counsel, our team of Wichita divorce lawyers can help you reach the best potential divorce settlement for your case. For more information about the divorce process or to arrange representation for your divorce, contact us to schedule a consultation.