Almost everyone has a social media account. It’s a fun and easy way to communicate, connect, and stay informed and is an important part of American culture. As entertaining and useful as social media can be, it can be extremely damaging in a divorce.
Social Media as an Outlet
When you are going through a divorce, you’re experiencing an extremely stressful event that impacts every aspect of your life. It may be one of the most challenging things you ever go through. It’s natural during a time of great turbulence to seek support, revenge, and positive feedback. Social media can provide all of that.
These are some of the common topics divorcing people post about on social media:
- Drinking, bars, marijuana, or parties (you’re single again and you want to celebrate).
- Rants about your spouse and everything awful they have done (you’re sad/angry and need to talk about it and you need others to say, “you’re right!”).
- Dating, new relationships, and sexual interest (you’re single and ready for love).
- Revenge (all the things you have done to stick it to your spouse and/or all the things you could/should do).
- Revenge (all the ways you’re gleefully spending the money your spouse is paying you through spousal or child support).
- Your kids (how great they are, things you do with them, things they tell you about the other parent).
- Your kids (all the ways they frustrate you, mistakes they make, and things they do that are embarrassing but possibly cute).
- Divorce (all the ways it is miserable).
How Your Posts Can Damage Your Case
As helpful as social media may be as a place to vent, to find support, and share, almost anything you post during your divorce is likely to actually hurt your case. Your spouse’s attorney will carefully look through your social media posts for evidence of:
- Poor or irresponsible parenting choices or behavior, including neglect
- New relationships to which you might be exposing your child
- Irresponsible spending
- Emotional breakdowns or mental illness
- Drug and alcohol use
- Bad judgment
- Anger, violence, or poor temperament in general
- Anger or violence towards your spouse
- Anger or violence towards your child
- Anger or violence towards pets
For example, if you post a photo of yourself at a party with friends, with drinks in your hands, it may seem harmless to you. You were out with friends, having a few drinks. Your spouse’s attorney is going to see that photo and all of the comments. This one photo could become the basis for an accusation that you have a drinking problem, that you are frequently drunk, and that you are under the influence when around your child. They may ask you in court if you frequently drink or get drunk. You’ll say no. They will then enter that post (and any others) into evidence. They will call every person who was tagged in the photo or who commented mentioning the great times you shared, and have them testify about all the times they saw you drink.
They will get credit card receipts for all your alcohol purchases at stores and restaurants and enter those into evidence. They will try to connect some or all of these events to times you were with your child. Before you know it, one post about you having a drink with friends turns into a story that you are an irresponsible alcoholic who places your child at risk and should not have any parenting time.
This might sound extreme and impossible, but keep in mind that your spouse’s attorney’s job is to represent your spouse as fully as possible and to present any and all evidence that will help their case. They are not concerned with what you actually have done. Instead, they are only concerned with what they can make it look like you might have done. They want the judge to have to think about your drinking and to place a seed of concern in the judge’s mind about you.
How You Should Use Social Media in Divorce
The best way to use social media in a divorce is to look but don’t post. Do not post anything. You might think you could post innocuous things like photos of flowers on your walk or your child in the pool or your dog. Or you might want to post an update letting your friends know you are getting a divorce and how hard it is. The problem is things you think are innocuous could possibly be damaging.
Assume that anything you post on social media will become evidence in your divorce case. That flower you posted on your walk gives information about where you were at a certain time, which might have something to do with custody. Your child in the pool could be spun to be evidence that you are not properly supervising your child. A photo of your dog could reveal where you were with the dog (at your boyfriend’s house, maybe?) at a time when your child was in your care. A post stating you are getting a divorce and sharing some of the details could be used to show you’re manipulating your spouse, seeking revenge, or are hiding assets.
Don’t give your spouse’s attorney the opportunity to see anything in your life. Don’t post anything, no matter how harmless you might think it is. If you want to be on social media to see what your friends are doing, to get information, or just to have fun, go for it. But don’t post anything yourself. If you can’t be on the platform without posting, delete your account while you are going through the divorce.
Some people think that if they can’t post with their account, they can just make a new account under a pseudonym, and use it to protect them. For example, Alex John Rodriguez deletes his Alex Rodriguez account and sets up a new one as Alex John or as AJRod. He thinks he can connect with his friends this way and stay under the radar. The problem is one of his friends might also still be friends with his ex and tell the ex about the new account. Or a friend mentions it to one of his friends, and it gets back to the ex. And then the ex’s attorney knows about the account, and everything becomes evidence.
Don’t post on social media. If you need to talk to your close friends, call them or text them. Keep your circle small and share information with the people you trust, not with the entire social media world.
Social media might be an important part of your life, but during your divorce posting anything must be off limits. The experienced divorce attorneys at Burnham Law are available to help you with all aspects of your divorce or family law case. Our lawyers know the law and can tell you how you can maximize your case for the best possible outcome. Set up an appointment today by calling 303-990-5308.