Here’s what you should know about using Social Media during Divorce
Tips for using Social Media wisely during Divorce Proceedings
In our age of constant busy-ness, social media helps us stay connected to our friends, family, and followers. Divorce is a huge life transition, and as with many huge life transitions, we like to update our friends and family with the details, sometimes over social media.
But social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, etc) are not the right place to talk about your divorce. This is because you may accidentally post something on one of your social media accounts that ends up being used as a court document against you.
81% of divorce attorneys say they’ve seen an increase in the number of recent cases where social media evidence was used against their client during divorce proceedings. To prevent social media from negatively affecting your divorce proceedings, you should read this guide to learn important tips for navigating social media during divorce.
Keep tabs on your Social Media usage
You should assume that every post, like, or comment you make on social media could potentially be used against you. You should also be thinking about the content of your private messages, as these can be used against you as well.
You should always assume the worst-case scenario when it comes to divorce. Your ex-wife likely wants certain things out of the divorce, like primary custody of your children or the family home. It is safe to assume that she will do anything to get the information she needs to help her case.
Social media enables us to share our lives and interests with our friends and family, which has beneficial effects on our well-being. But, one major issue with social media is that it gives your ex-wife (or anyone looking at your social media profiles) significant insight into your life. All your ex-wife has to do is type in your first and last name on any social media website, and she can find your profile in less than a minute. Women are good at snooping and “Facebook stalking”; if they want to find something, they will find it. And if she gets incriminating information, you can bet that she will use it against you to get what she wants. That’s why you need to keep your activities on social media clean.
Even if you have tight privacy settings and you aren’t connected with your ex-wife through social media, there are still ways that an attorney, a judge, or your ex-wife can find incriminating evidence to use against you through your social media accounts.
Announcing your Divorce through Social Media
Announcing a big life transition like divorce through social media may seem perfectly normal. Many of us share what’s happening in our lives through social media. When you get a new job, you probably tweet the details of your new position. When you go on a vacation, you may post some pictures of your trip on Facebook. So, it may make sense to announce your divorce on Social Media. It’s easier than having to tell everyone in your life individually (can you imagine having to call every single person in your address book to tell them you’re getting divorced?).
It’s up to you whether you want to announce your divorce on social media or not. Some ex-couples post divorce selfies and some ex-couples make a joint announcement through their social media accounts. Some people decide to make a statement about their marriage ending without their ex involved. Some people just change their relationship status on Facebook from ‘Married’ to ‘Single’.
If you decide to share the news of your divorce on social media, you need to be careful about how you phrase the post. So often we will post a status and not carefully think about its contents or what the status implies.
Even if you are very angry and upset about the divorce, these feelings cannot come through on social media. When sharing the news of your impending divorce, make the status amicable in nature. Don’t bash your ex-wife and don’t get into the nasty details of the divorce. Write a short, simple status and don’t elaborate on the reasons for the divorce.
Keep in mind that anything you say on social media about your divorce is subject to discussion among your friends and followers. They are going to have their own (sometimes hurtful and hateful) opinions about your divorce, and they may share those opinions with you. If you don’t want to be exposed to these types of criticism, don’t discuss your divorce on social media.
- New items you have recently purchased: It may be tempting to show off your brand-new Harley through social media, but it’s better to just invite some friends over and show them yourself. If you’re trying to negotiate a custody or settlement agreement, it is not in your best interest to brag about new and expensive items you’re buying on social media. Your ex-wife could be “Facebook-stalking” you, looking for evidence of your behavior so she can get more spousal support or primary custody of your kids. Your ex-wife could tell the court that you can pay more spousal support than you want to because you just dropped $18,000 on a new Harley. And, they have solid proof to back up their claim, no matter how untrue it is. Don’t put yourself in this situation and don’t discuss any new items you’ve purchased on social media.
- Photos of or references to any recent vacations: You may want nothing more than to get away from the messiness of your divorce and escape to Acapulco for a week. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, showing photos of your ritzy vacation through social media is just more proof that you have the money to pay extra spousal support or child support. To be on the safe side, keep your photos of your fancy vacation off of social media.
- Your ex-wife and details of the divorce: Posting about your ex-wife or the divorce, whether good or bad in nature, is tacky. It’s airing too much of your personal issues on social media. Do you really want a random high school classmate you’re Facebook friends with to know all about your ex and the divorce? You probably don’t, so that’s why you shouldn’t share anything about your ex-wife through social media. Confide in your close friends and family instead.
- New dates or partners: It’s not technically wrong to date during your divorce proceedings; you can do whatever you want on that end. But, don’t share details about your dating life through social media. Posting a photo with a new, gorgeous date may temporarily make you feel better, and it may even make your ex-wife mad. This scenario sounds good at first; who wouldn’t want to one-up their awful ex-wife? But, hurt feelings can cause the divorce proceedings to last longer than they need to. Your ex-wife may feel very hurt by the divorce, and if she sees you with a new date, she could make the proceedings even more difficult. Even if you know your ex-wife has moved on, she could still be disgruntled that you are dating and make your life miserable (sounds fair, right?). To be safe, don’t post any pictures with your new fling or date on social media, and don’t make any references to them either.
- Advice your attorney has given you: Sharing advice your attorney has given you through social media could lead to the revocation of attorney-client privilege. You’re already paying a large amount for legal services; don’t risk attorney-client privilege by being careless about sharing your attorney’s advice through social media.
- Photos of or references to using alcohol or drugs: Posting pictures of you drinking or doing drugs is never a good idea, even when you aren’t going through divorce. This should go without saying. But, sometimes a friend will throw a party, take some pictures, post them on Facebook, and tag you in a photo drinking a beer. Before divorce, you probably never blinked an eye in these types of situations because it didn’t matter. But during divorce you always need to assume the worst. A photo that was taken on a night where you only had 1 beer can be manipulated by your ex-wife in court to make you look like you had 6 beers instead. It’s a sad and true reality of going through divorce, especially when children are involved. Un-tag yourself from any photos on social media that show you drinking, even if they’re fairly innocent photos.
- “Checking in” at places: It may not seem like a big deal to “check in” at your favorite bar or restaurant you’re at with your buddies. But, during divorce, your story you tell to the court has to match up with your personal life activities, including those shared through social media. If your social media activities don’t match up with the story you tell the judge, your credibility will be undermined entirely. Having shaky credibility will completely hurt your case. For example, if you “checked-in” at a bar around 7pm and you’re supposed to pick up your kids at 8pm, this could look bad to the court. Refrain from “checking in” at places through social media when you’re going through divorce.
What if I already posted an incriminating status?
If you’ve already posted a status that makes you look bad on your social media accounts, don’t delete it. This includes any private messages or photos you have as well. Don’t delete anything.
If the court finds out you deleted these posts, it could count as ‘spoliation’ of evidence, which is another term for tampering with evidence. Deleting social media posts that could be used as evidence during litigation looks really bad to the court and could seriously affect your case.
What you should do instead is tell your divorce attorney that you’ve shared some posts on social media that could be harmful to your case. Once they know what is going on, they can advise you on what the best course of action is.
If you’re having any concerns about your social media activities during divorce, you should ask your divorce attorney for advice because they understand your specific case and situation.
To be honest, the only way you’re going to completely avoid any of these consequences is by staying off social media until your divorce is final. Even if you don’t post a status to Facebook directly about your divorce, you could “like” a comment that makes you look really bad to the court. Making your social media profiles “private” may not entirely protect your privacy; there’s still a chance your ex-wife (or her allies) could see an incriminating status on your social media profiles. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Social media can help you escape some of the loneliness and sadness divorce brings. Humorous photos and updates from loved ones can help you feel better during the difficult period of divorce. But, it’s important to not get sucked into social media during divorce and to use it sparingly. Decrease your overall social media usage and try to use social media in ways that are not going to affect your divorce.
For tips on cleaning up your Facebook profile after divorce, check out our article, “5 Post-Divorce Facebook Clean-ups”