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Social Media Dos and Don’ts During Divorce

When you’re divorcing - and especially when kids are involved - what you post on social media can actually be used in court against you.

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More than 200 million people in the U.S. use Facebook and it’s fun. We love to stay connected with our family, friends and sometimes, our frenemies.

However, when you’re divorcing — and especially when kids are involved — what you post on social media can actually be used in court to show where you were (or who you were with) on a certain date and time, show your state of mind, provide proof of extramarital relationships or large purchases, or reveal what you’ve said about your ex or your kids in the past.

And here’s the thing: Social media, like emails and texts, are considered “discoverable” information that your ex’s attorney can review, even going back years, to influence a judge’s decision about alimony or custody.

Now, the rub: Your privacy settings won’t prevent the other side from reviewing your posts. And, you can’t just go back into your social media account and start deleting posts because you might face penalties for trashing information relevant to your case. This is something you should definitely talk to your attorney about, if you have concerns.

Here are our 10 best tips for using social media responsibly during and after your divorce.

1. Always think before you post.

Yikes — social media is forever (sort of). Before you post on your fave social site, always remember this: Once a rant about your ex is out there, at least a few people have seen it even if you delete it. These could turn into damaging screenshots that could be used against you in court. Rule of thumb: If you don’t want the judge to read it, don’t post it.

2. Do damage control.

If you’re starting the divorce process, and you’ve used your Facebook page to vent about your relationship, you can take some action. First, lock down your privacy settings. You may also want to change your password for extra security. Also, scan your friends list and remove anyone who might cause drama or do some spying for your ex. Tip: During the proceedings, take time to scan friends’ or family members’ walls to be sure they haven’t posted something damaging about you that your attorney should see.

3. Don’t post pictures of any large purchases.

Hello, speedboat and diamond ring! These types of posts could create an unrealistic view of your financial picture and could affect your alimony or child support agreement.

4. Watch what you post about the kids.

You can definitely continue to post about your kids’ achievements and activities. Avoid posting about how hard the legal process has been on you and the kids. And never post about how difficult being a single parent is (“I can barely make it through the day as a single parent”) because that can also affect custody. And, some divorcing couples even put an agreement in place about limiting child-related posts (as in statuses or photos that give others insights into your kids’ lives).

5. Keep your dating life under wraps for now.

Even if you weren’t having an affair prior to your divorce proceedings, it’s always a good idea to keep your dating life off social media while you’re going through your split.

6. Don’t post about any illicit or illegal behavior.

This should go without saying, right? However, it’s also a good idea not to post pictures of you partying and drinking while your ex has the kids. In addition, when you’re out for a well-deserved night on the town, don’t let friends post pictures of you imbibing (or tag you in those photos). Unfortunately, sometimes innocent posts can be misconstrued in court and can affect your custody agreement.

7. Don’t be an open book.

Your 700 Facebook friends shouldn’t be privy to your legal battle every step of the way, or to your final child support or visitation agreements. You especially shouldn’t post any opinions about your ex’s attorney or the judge.

8. It’s OK to defriend your ex (or not).

This is really up to you. Some people like to pop in on their ex’s page when they have the kids to see what they up to, and be reassured. Your kids also might be old enough to have their own accounts, so you may all stay connected. Obviously though, it can get tiring to filter out your ex from posts where you solicit advice from divorced friends or to share details of your new life.

9. Take the high road after divorce.

It’s simple — don’t trash your ex on social media, especially since you’ll still share some of the same personal and professional connections. Also, your kids are socially savvy. So, again, if you’re tempted to complain about your ex, don’t. Never assume that your now-3-year-old child won’t someday read what you’ve written about their other parent, and resent you for it.

10. Use social for support and connection.

First, tap into social support systems by joining support groups for divorcing moms or dads, or stepparents. And take advantage of the chat and video feature on Facebook, for example, for digital visits with your kids.

If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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