Does it seem like social media exists solely to stress you out and show you things that will make you sad? Facebook exists to connect the world, but connecting with your ex is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re going through a divorce or separation. Whether you’re just starting the divorce or whether it’s finalized, most people prefer to be as disconnected from their former husband or wife as possible. And Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. make that difficult to do. [Read more…]
The digital lifestyle can have negative consequences and one of which is this: You can sabotage your own divorce case if you aren’t careful about posting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even the up-and-coming iPhone app, Instagram.
In fact, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) recently released a study that showed more than 80 percent of divorce attorneys have used social media posts (also known as “social networking”) as evidence in divorce court cases in the past six years.
Yes, divorce lawyers all over the country are, more and more, sharing Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and Instagram pics and captions in the courtroom. These “snapshots” into the life of your soon-to-be ex spouse have exposed extramarital affairs and outright lies that can affect everything from spousal support (alimony) to the time your allowed to spend with your children.
“In the Stephen and Courtney Gallion case, a widely reported case, the husband had seen some things on their shared computer that made him suspect incriminating evidence would be found in the wife’s social media accounts. The judge ordered the divorcing couple to hand over the passwords to their Facebook and online dating accounts to the opposing counsel.”
See? Social media networking can undermine your divorce (or prove your point!). So, what can you do about it today?
What Can I Do About Social Media and My Divorce?
One thing lawyers say is crucial to the divorce process is patience and restraint. Sure, it may be very tempting to gush on Facebook about your new crush, but it can also be used as evidence if you must disprove adultery in your divorce case.
What about tweets, Instagram pics and even “check ins” on your smart phone? They can pinpoint your movements that can build a case to your very own guilt! And that’s not good in any court action.
Most divorce lawyers caution their clients to be rather anonymous during this time. This isn’t just flippant advice. Remember, you may feel like you are flying (as in partying) after you’ve decided to separate from your spouse, but do you really want to capture all the flying-too-high moments too?
Social media evidence can jeopardize not only your court case, but also affect your child custody rights and future ability to co-parent with your ex spouse. Here are some more tips:
Don’t brag. Think twice about “bragging” to your ex via any social networking post. Party pics can get you in trouble in more ways than just one.
Block your ex. Block your ex spouse from all your social media sites and consider blocking or limiting availability to certain family, friends and colleagues who are sympathetic to your ex spouse.
Change your passwords and protect your digital equipment. It is possible your ex spouse has or had access to your laptop or smart phone and can hijack passwords and even install spyware software. First, take the time to change all your important passwords. If you suspect spyware or are just curious, you can take your laptop or smart phone to a spyware detection specialist.
Stop checking in and geotagging. Don’t let everyone know your whereabouts during this sensitive time in your life. It’s time to chill out on any location services software such as “check ins” on your iPhone or with Instagram’s newfangled “geotagging” capabilities.
It may not be fun, but be wary before, during and after divorce about how your ex spouse, friends and family members (and a judge!) may feel about all of your social networking posts.
For more information on social media and divorce, see Texts, Spyware, Social Media and Divorce.
Now that you and your spouse have decided to split, it’s time to rethink how you use Facebook. Not only will the communications with your spouse, family, and friends change as a result of your divorce, but what you say could end up in the hands of your spouse’s divorce lawyer. Be careful!
Follow these five tips to make sure Facebook doesn’t hurt your relationships or your case.
Facebook Tip #1 – Practice Responsible Wall Posting
You may be upset, but venting on Facebook is inappropriate. Your comments don’t just insult your spouse, they could insult your children, family members, and friends who care about either one of you. To make matters worse, defaming posts or incriminating posts could negatively impact your divorce case. Printed screen shots of Facebook accounts can be used as evidence in a divorce case.
Facebook Tip #2 – Re-Evaluate Photos
Look back at your photo albums and remove photos that could be interpreted as inappropriate – even if the behavior was innocent. Also, be sure to “untag” yourself from photos published by friends.
Facebook Tip #3 – Revisit Your Friend List
It’s difficult to lose “couple friends” and other friends you made through your spouse. However, if you are going through a nasty divorce, it might be best to “un-friend” those you no longer consider a close friend as a result of the divorce. What you say and do can be held against you…
Facebook Tip #4 – Update Your “Info” Page
If you decide to enter into a new relationship before your divorce becomes final, leave the Relationship Status field blank.
Facebook Tip #5 -Update Your Privacy Settings
This tip is last, but it’s definitely not the least important tip. In fact, it’s one of the most important. Take the time to review your account settings and update your privacy choices. Even if you “un-friend” someone, he or she can still see your photos and posts unless you set your privacy settings so they can’t.