What Not to Post on Social Media during a Divorce or Custody Action
Divorce is a highly emotional time, and couples who are going through this process often feel the need to talk to someone about what they are experiencing. One outlet on which many divorcing spouses find tempting to express how they feel is social media.
Most of us use social media to stay connected with those closest to us, keep up on what is going on in the lives of our family and friends, and keep them updated on what is happening with us. This is all well and good during normal times, but when you are in the middle of a divorce or custody action, it’s wise to be mindful of exactly what you’re putting out there for the world to see.
The thing that is most important to know about social media during a divorce or custody action is that nothing (and we mean nothing) that you post is private. Posting photos, status updates, and other information on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and anywhere else online is all discoverable, and this information can all be used against you in court or during settlement negotiations.
What about Using Secure Privacy Settings and Sending Private Messages?
Some people believe that if they modify their privacy settings to the most secure and just send private messages to trusted family and friends, no one will ever see it. Maybe, but don’t count on it. Social media posts have a way of surfacing, even when you have taken all the precautions. Further, you may be required to provide the entirety of your social media history, including private messages, to the other side during the course of discovery.
Maybe there was someone in your private, private network that you couldn’t trust, or maybe your (soon-to-be) ex got into your private, secluded network by creating a fake profile pretending to be your best friend. You never know what can happen online, so whatever you put out there, you must assume that it will go out to the whole world and act accordingly. Equally important, you must assume that anything you post or any message you send may end up in the hands of a judge deciding your case- so your best bet is not to post or send anything you would be embarrassed for the judge to see.
What you Should Never Post on Social Media During a Divorce or Custody Action
Bearing in mind that nothing you post on social media is secure, the best advice we can give you is to take a break from it for a while and resume activity after the divorce or custody proceeding is over. We also understand that this is a tall order for many people, and you may have a hard time quitting social media cold turkey.
At the very least, refrain from posting anything that could in any way be relevant to your case. To help with this, here is a list of things you should never post on social media when you are going through a family court action:
A Solo Announcement about the Divorce
Right off the bat, you may want to post something announcing your divorce to the world. While it is natural to want to let your family and friends know about something this big, posting an electronic announcement is usually a mistake, because you might say something that you will regret later on. Even if you are very careful with your wording, there is always the chance that something will be misinterpreted or taken the wrong way. If you feel the need to post an announcement, make it a joint statement you put out with your spouse (if they are willing to agree to that). If that is not an option, stick to private (voice) conversations.
Posts Bashing your Spouse
It is easy sometimes in the heat of the moment to post something that is derogatory to your spouse. It may not even be something direct – maybe it is a meme that speaks generally about some way in which your spouse wronged you, for example. No matter how subtle the message is, it is never a good idea to post things that are directed at your spouse.
Pictures with your New “Special Someone”
It is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to start dating even before the divorce proceeding is over, but it is never a good idea to flaunt this new relationship on social media. Nothing good can come from showing off a new “significant other” before your current divorce is finalized; and depending on the timing of the new relationship you are in, this information could get you into a lot of trouble.
Pictures of you Spending Money
Many of the most important issues that need to be resolved during a divorce have to do with money. How will the marital assets be divided? How much will be paid in child support? Will one of the spouses qualify for alimony? As you can see, you will be dealing with many issues that have to do with money. As such, be very careful about things you post having to do with the money you are spending. Did you just buy a new car or take a luxury vacation to Europe? If so, do not announce these things to the world. It is best to be low key and downplay anything that has to do with your finances.
Anything about Your Kids
If you have children, they obviously mean the world to you. But a good rule of thumb during a divorce is to keep the kids out of it. Yes, continue to share special moments with your kids, but don’t put photos of these moments on Facebook and other platforms. Keep them private for now. Pictures with you and your kids may be totally fine to post at any other time. But during a divorce, you are under a microscope and certain photos could be misinterpreted or there could be something in them you don’t even notice that could be used to call your parenting into question.
Be Careful How You Communicate with your Spouse or Child’s Other Parent
Ill-advised social media posts can expose you to a lot of unnecessary trouble during a divorce or custody action, but there are other dangers in the digital world as well. In particular, be very careful about the way you communicate with your spouse or child’s other parent during the family court process. Remember that texts, emails, and private social media messages leave a permanent digital footprint, so be sure not to send your spouse anything that could be construed as provocative, harassing, or otherwise damaging.
Listen to your Legal Counsel
As you can see, social media and other types of electronic activity can impact many areas of a divorce or custody action. That is why you should limit this activity as much as possible. During this difficult and emotional time, it would be beneficial to hire a divorce attorney whom you trust and feel comfortable working with. You will need to lean heavily on their advice, because this will help keep you out of trouble and help ensure that your divorce or custody action will go as smoothly as possible.