Almost everyone in America uses some sort of social media to connect with colleagues and family, share news, and document their lives. With so much of our daily habits ending up in a Facebook status, a tweet, or a new post on Instagram, people considering divorce need to be careful about what they share with the world. If you aren’t careful, your ostensibly innocent update may be presented as evidence in your divorce case.
In a 2010 survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of divorce lawyers admitting using data gleaned from social networking websites as evidence in a divorce case or separation. Nine years later, it can only be assumed that this percentage has risen even higher. Before you post, think about how your message could be portrayed—better yet, consider taking a hiatus from social media while you work out your marital separation.
Have Children? Don’t Post Pictures of Partying
Where your kids will live after a divorce is frequently a huge struggle between separating couples. If a spouse wants custody, he or she must be able to prove to the court a safe, stable living environment for the child. Pictures or status updates about drinking or drug use can severely harm your reputation with a family court judge. Even if you rarely drink, or have never taken an illegal drug, pictures of a divorcing spouse partying it up at a wild bar can be used to formulate an illustration of carelessness. Clean up pictures on your social media profiles, and delete those which may hurt your image. Keep in mind that you cannot stop other people from posting incriminating photos or status updates, so try to avoid any circumstances which may be used to shape you in a negative light.
Need More Support Money? Don’t Post Purchases
One of the most hostile issues in a divorce is money. Often, one spouse will be ordered to pay child support, spousal support, or both. When you are receiving support payments from your ex-spouse, or if you are asking your former spouse for an increase in the number of payments, consider carefully before you update your status with news of your latest purchase. Large expenditures like vehicles or vacations or periodic updates about trips to the outlet mall can be used to show that you are not controlling your money wisely. Even if these acquisitions are not made with money from your former spouse, it is better not to share them until tensions have eased among you and your ex.
Don’t Use Social Media to Harass your Ex
Ex-spouses often stay friends of Facebook or continue to follow on Twitter or Instagram, even though it can be very painful to watch as an ex-spouse moves on with his or her life. Posts regarding a new boyfriend or girlfriend, especially if there were accusations of infidelity in your marriage, can be absolutely infuriating. Your ex-spouse may also post messages condemning you for your divorce or broadcasting lies about your activities and conduct. Resist the urge to comment or send messages to your ex-spouse. Assume that every message you post and every comment you send will be saved permanently, even if you remove it later. An exasperated message (or messages) sent in the heat of the moment could be used later as evidence of harassment or mental imbalance.
Social media unites the entire world. These sites can be invaluable tools for staying in touch with loved ones, but they can also be serious weapons in a divorce proceeding. Don’t give your former spouse the resources to hurt you—always remember before you post.