Social media can be a terrific way to connect with family and friends. Some use it to celebrate life’s big moments, share news stories, or to express personal opinions. But did you ever consider the consequences of your social media history if you were to divorce? Your life online could be used against you!
Setting your social media accounts to private (vs. public) DOES NOT keep you safe. In the discovery process, specifically Supreme Court Rule 58.01, your ex can request your social media archive in its entirety by filing a formal Request for Production of Documents with the court. Through postings or photos, you may unknowingly be revealing details of your life that could potentially be used as evidence again you. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for handling social media:
- Post less or not at all: Assume everything you say could be used against you.
- Check your tone: Sarcasm does not translate well and disparaging comments will be used to indicate a negative character (especially when kids are involved).
- Turn back time: Review your past posts for potential landmines and delete anything egregious.
- Audit your village: Check the online groups you belong to, pages you like, and acquaintance you’re connected with and leave any that could be problematic.
- Set rules with your ex now: Discuss how you’ll interact on social media going forward, if at all- should you limit it to children’s birthdays, graduations and other milestones? Or should you “unfriend” or block each other (at least for now)?
- Quiet the peanut gallery: Ask family and friends who know about your marital woes to not comment about it on social media. Well-meaning people may think they are helping by defending you, but it can cause more harm than good.
- Take screenshots: If your spouse’s social media posts are concerning, share them with your attorney–not online (Function+Prt Sc on most PCs, power button + lower volume button on many smart phones).
- Limit your exposure: When going through a difficult time, seeing other people’s happy posts and celebrations can make us feel sad, anxious and lonely. Take a break if it’s getting you down!
- Announce your divorce online unless it is by mutual agreement with your spouse and the situation is amicable. Don’t discuss the particulars of your divorce proceedings.
- Bash or embarrass your spouse or make underhanded remarks about them.
- Drag your kids or other people into online marital spats.
- Insult, accuse or fight with your spouse’s family and friends online, even if they are attacking you.
- Provoke or threaten your spouse, or post anything justifying violence, directly or indirectly against your spouse, children or others. Family court judges take marital misconduct and bad behaviors into account when determining custody and settlements.
- Post photos that could negatively affect your divorce, or your custody agreement if you have kids. A few examples to avoid: alcohol and substance use, partying, gambling, reckless behavior, and being seen in company that could suggest an extramarital affair.
- Openly discuss your own or your spouse’s financial and medical issues, mental health or frame of mind (i.e. counseling, therapy, antidepressant use, feelings of anger or hopelessness). Especially if you have children–your spouse’s attorney could raise concerns about your fitness as a parent.
Social media is full of perils during a divorce. Proceed cautiously, and when in doubt, ask your divorce attorney for advice.
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. Be sure to follow us on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Share our articles with others! For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact us today.