Did you know that the divorce rate in America is hovering between 42% and 45%?
Divorce is never an easy time for anyone. For many couples, it’s one of the most stressful times they’ll ever face.
Something that can make a divorce even more stressful? The improper use of social media.
But wait, you might be thinking, “Isn’t social media there to be my sounding board? Isn’t that where I should turn to vent about my problems or seek support from my friends?”
Not so fast. As stated in the Miranda Rights, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
This is especially true of what you post on social media.
What do we mean by that? In this article, we’ll delve into Facebook and divorce and exactly what you should — and shouldn’t — be doing on social media.
Social Media Don’ts
There are a lot of things you shouldn’t do on social media–especially if you have children.
Here are four things you definitely want to avoid during your divorce proceedings.
1. Don’t Post Pictures to Show How Great You’re Doing
Social media is generally a place to brag (a little) about ourselves. We love posting pictures of that great vacation, that shiny new car, or that awesome concert we attended with friends.
This is all fine and good — until you’re getting a divorce. The unfortunate truth is that all those “happy” pictures can be twisted and used against you.
If you post pictures of yourself having a drink with your friends, your ex could argue that you’re an alcoholic. Or, if you’re spending lots of money on vacations or new purchases, the judge could conclude you’re financially well off and order you to pay more alimony.
There’s nothing wrong with traveling, buying things, or spending times with friends during your divorce. Just don’t splash it across the internet.
2. Don’t Post Anything Negative Either
On the flip side, you might be tempted to use social media as your personal online diary. You may want to rant about your ex, their family, their lawyer, or that ugly dog you never liked in the first place.
Don’t do it! You may feel a moment of satisfaction when you post your rant, but it will almost certainly come back to bite you in the end. Even an inside joke could be taken out of context and used against you in court.
If you have kids and your divorce involves custody and visitation rights, this is doubly important. Your children are far more important than the temporary satisfaction of bad-mouthing your ex on Facebook.
3. Don’t Depend on Privacy Settings
You may think you can post whatever you want on social media if you simply change your privacy settings.
The problem is that Facebook and other channels often change their privacy settings without notice. Just because you’ve blocked your ex from seeing your posts doesn’t mean your mutual friends can’t see them.
We’ve even heard of attorneys who purposely “friend” someone on your (or your ex’s) list to gain access to your Facebook page. So when it comes to privacy settings, no information you post is ever truly “private.”
4. Don’t Delete Social Media Posts
After reading this, you might be tempted to go online and delete those photos of you drinking at the bar with your friends.
The problem with this is that, if the court finds out, you could be found guilty of spoliation of evidence. This means that you have intentionally withheld or destroyed “evidence” that could be used during your divorce proceedings.
Rather than giving you a clean slate, deleting posts actually makes you look guiltier, or like you have something to hide. You and your attorney can even be fined for it!
Social Media Do’s
Now that you know what not to do on social media, what are your options?
Some people choose to stay away from Facebook altogether until their divorce is finalized. If you do choose to log in, here are a few important things to keep in mind.
1. Think Very Carefully Before You Post
Even a simple status update could be misconstrued in court.
That innocent cup of coffee with an opposite-sex friend could easily lead to a claim of infidelity. And that rant about how hard it will be to be a single parent could lead the judge to believe you’re unfit to do so.
Many times, the risks aren’t worth it. If you have any doubts about what you’re about to post–don’t.
2. Consider Your Friends’ Posts
Have you heard that saying, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are?” This is especially true on social media.
Your Facebook account (and your ex’s) aren’t the only ones under scrutiny. You’d better believe that your lawyers will examine your friends’ posts, too, to see what kind of company you keep.
Even if you don’t post anything incriminating, 200 Facebook friends with posts full of drinking and partying will not help your case.
3. Reach out to People Who Can Help You
We’ve talked about a lot of negatives associated with social media use, but it’s not all bad.
Facebook and other platforms can be a great opportunity to reach out to support groups. You could also privately message a friend and ask to meet in person for some face-to-face encouragement.
4. Speak Positively About Yourself
When you’re going through a divorce, you’re likely to have some doubts, fears, and dark thoughts.
An old-fashioned hand-written journal can be an invaluable tool to help you sort through your feelings. You might also consider speaking to a professional counselor or therapist.
Facebook is not the place to share your anger, hurt, or feelings of inadequacy. If you do choose to post, keep things on a positive note.
Facebook and Divorce: Now You Know
Were you surprised by some of these suggestions?
It’s easy to view social media is your ally during difficult times. When it comes to Facebook and divorce, though, that ally could turn into your worst enemy.
Don’t let it. Be smart and selective about what you post, and you’ll end up with much smoother divorce proceedings.
Another thing that will help you through this transition is an experienced divorce attorney.
If you live in or around the York, Pennsylvania area, please contact us today for more information.