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When a couple goes through a divorce, attorneys often advise each client to close all social media accounts, and stay mindful of any emails or texts sent during this time. Everything posted online may be subpoenaed and used against a person during a divorce or custody battle. Aside from the negative ramifications the use of social media can bring to a divorce, it’s always best to keep an online presence that exercises dignity and class despite a divorce. This is the best approach for parents who are looking to set positive examples for their children, and keep things peaceful between family and friends. There are a variety of things to be mindful of when posting over social media during and after a divorce that could help or hurt these efforts. And so, here are some social media best practices to use during and after a divorce.
Post with Caution
Since everything a person writes, posts, and likes over social media can be used in court, it’s important to be mindful of these things when using such sites. If there is anything on a social media account from the past that could be used in court, it isn’t likely that deleting it will rule out the chances of it being found and used. A good rule of thumb for anyone using social media at any time is to assume that your grandmother or judge will be reading and watching all activity over social media, and to post accordingly. This is the key to having true social media etiquette.
Divorce financial strategist, Jeff Landers, states that he has seen social media activity result in “unforeseen consequences in divorce settlement negotiations.” One of the things some may not realize is that social media can be used to search for clues that a person has hidden assets during a divorce. Social media posts may also be giving information out that mutual friends could relay to an ex during a divorce or custody battle.
If a couple has children, posting should be not only cautious, but respectful toward both the other parent and the children. Aside from mutual friends seeing the information, children who are very fragile during this time of transition will be exposed to it. This is one of the many reasons it’s always best to take the high road when using social media, and to not post anything that wouldn’t be happily shared with the entire world. It may also help to live and conduct oneself as if there is a camera everywhere, as anyone can take a photo, post it to social media, and tag a person in it for the world to see, at any time.
Emails and texts should be treated with the same amount of caution as social media, as these can also be subpoenaed and examined thoroughly. If a person cannot exhibit posting with caution, it is best to avoid social media altogether. For those who would like a bit more assistance in defining what not to post, we’ve made a list of posts and posting habits to avoid at all costs while going through a divorce, or custody dispute.
6 Things Not to Post During a Divorce
- Hate posts: Anything abusive or angry about a spouse or ex should be avoided at all costs, as it shows more about one’s own character in a negative manner than it does about the spouse or ex.
- Risky business: A behavior, habit, or lifestyle decision that would be frowned upon during a divorce or custody hearing, such as photos or posts exhibiting risky behavior, such as drinking, substance use, or mental instability.
- Money matters: Purchases, spending, or anything that could point to one’s financial situation. This could be brought into the courtroom, and could have a negative effect on negotiations.
- Love interests: This could muddy the waters for a divorce that hasn’t been finalized. It could also be brought into a custody dispute.
- Emotionally driven content: This could come back to bite a person if reacting in anger, or lashing out behavior toward someone over social media. It could also paint a negative picture about one’s mental health that could be taken into question during a custody hearing. Ways to combat this are by avoiding social media:
- After a court appearance or meeting with lawyers, as emotions tend to be high.
- When not 100% sober, as the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, etc. could result in posts that are neither remembered or thought out, and once seen bring regret.
- Personal information: Whether your privacy settings are on or not, this information can still be found, and used against a person in court. Such information is also sold to third party marketing companies by various social media platforms.
5 More Social Media Best Practices
In addition to the list above on what not to post, there are a variety of social media best practices one should adhere to when going through a divorce or custody battle that will help to keep all social media activities copacetic.
- Be wary of new friend requests: The first best practice tip is to refrain from accepting any friend request that are from people not personally known. There is no telling who such a person could truly be and what the motives behind the request are. There are oftentimes settings that can limit others from sending friend requests unless they have mutual friends, or know the profile holder’s personal email.
- Set boundaries with family and friends: When going through a divorce, it’s important to have all the family and friends who make up your team on the same page. This means that no one should be taking photos without explicit permission, posting any photos online, or tagging the people in those photos over social media. If friends and family cannot respect this, perhaps they should be avoided during this time.
- Avoid online social activity: These are things such as message boards, chat rooms, blogs and the like. These could be misconstrued and used as evidence in a court case.
- Consider the children: When posting over social media, it’s best to ensure all posts reflect one’s parenting skills, and the lifestyle of the children, in a positive light. Anything that could disparage anyone should be avoided, even if making fun of oneself.
- Continue social media etiquette post-divorce: Even if a divorce has been finalized, there may still be custody arrangements that have not been set in place. Any failure to adhere to the above mentioned social media best practices could have negative consequences on the custody of one’s children.
With a bit of cognizance as to how to present oneself over social media, and in life, one can exhibit true etiquette that will not only help make things easier in the long-run, but will also help avoid unnecessary turmoil caused during a divorce or custody dispute.