Social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others – are a regular part of daily life for many Americans. These platforms are used for both personal and professional reasons, to showcase videos and photographs, share jokes and life events, and build a professional network. The general population now has access to a wide audience unlike any other time in our history. What some may not realize, however, is that social media platforms can be a double-edged sword because it allows the audience for shared personal information can include people who want to use it against us. This is often the case in divorce.
Social media evidence
Attorneys in many fields use social media posts as evidence. For family law attorneys, social media can provide a treasure trove of otherwise private information that can impact custody of children, alimony and other important issues in divorce.
What not to post
For everyone on social media, the best course of action is to avoid doing anything that could be potentially viewed as “inappropriate.” However, what’s inappropriate to one party may not be inappropriate to another.
Divorced parties, or those contemplating divorce, should follow a general rule of thumb and avoid posting:
- Defaming information about your spouse (or ex-spouse)
- Information or comments (good or bad) about your divorce
- Pictures that augment a false version of your reality
- Videos that augment a false version of your financial status
- Information that may undermine your ability to parent
These guidelines should be followed by those close to the divorcing parties as well. Parents, siblings, new significant others and close friends’ social media posts can all end up under a microscope and can come back to haunt the divorcing parties in court proceedings. This can even be true after the divorce is complete. One of the most common uses of social media evidence emerges after the divorce is over to demonstrate a former spouse receiving alimony is living with a new significant other, which could terminate alimony.
Tips for using social media amid a divorce
The decision to “go dark” from all social media can be difficult, especially for those who use it to stay in touch with friends and family across the country. If you plan on continuing to use social media during or after a divorce, there are a few ways to help mitigate potential problems. You can:
- Change your privacy settings to see who can view your posts
- Unfriend family or friends related to your ex
- Avoid engaging with your ex or their family or friends via messaging
Think first before posting
Although many divorce cases resolve through negotiation, mediation and agreement, some issues can be contentious. High conflict issues, such as custody and alimony, can cause divorcing spouse to search for a leg up in the negotiation, including turning to social media posts to boost their positions. Because of this, it’s important to be cognizant of every picture, video and status update you post on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat or any other social media platform.
If you find yourself hesitating, it is likely an indication you should refrain from making it public.