Getting Divorced? Think Twice Before Posting on Social Media
If you are like the majority of the clients that walk through our door, you no doubt have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account – maybe even all three. There is no denying the convenience of social media for staying in touch with family and friends, re-connecting with childhood classmates, and getting support from any number of the thousands of online groups.
Many users of social media fail to utilize the privacy settings, which means that anything they post – from status updates to photos, their “liked” pages, even which groups they have joined – is open for anybody to see. And with 80% of attorneys admitting to combing through social media sites, even submitting discovery requests to obtain posted information, for evidence that can cast the opposing party in an unfavorable light, it is important to think twice about what you post on your accounts.
Even those with locked-down privacy settings aren’t free from negative consequences. Family, friends or even members of private online groups routinely share information posted online with your significant other - sometimes maliciously, sometimes innocently - without realizing how that information can be used against you.
You don’t need to refrain from social media until the divorce or child custody agreement is finalized. Instead, follow these suggestions to prevent your online life from potentially damaging your real-life one:
Refrain from trash talk. Nobody expects you and your spouse to like each other. After all, you’re going through a divorce, so something obviously went wrong in the marriage. But trash talking your soon-to-be ex-spouse can further flame the animosity, and may cause him to use the divorce as a means of retaliation.
No trash talk is even more important if custody of your children is at stake. Talking poorly about your ex opens the door to claims that you lack the “capacity and disposition. . .to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship” between the child and the other parent, which can adversely affect the outcome of the time-sharing schedule.
Refrain from discussing your social life. Florida law does not prohibit dating during divorce. But if you find yourself in a new relationship before the divorce is finalized, don’t go changing your status to “in a relationship” on Facebook just yet. Gushing about your new love online can cause your spouse to question your marital fidelity, or make her just plain jealous. And that can make her dig in her heels and decide to fight out of spite.
Talking about your dating online also raises potential problems when it comes to the time-sharing agreement. The other parent may attempt to argue that your new social life interferes with your ability to parent and, if you post evidence of your significant other having spent the night, that it clouds your judgment as well and exposes your children to inappropriate behaviors.
Refrain from posting about your attendance at non-family friendly events. You’re an adult, so you are entitled to a night out with friends – even one that involves dancing and drinking at a nightclub or bar. And while you would never dream of leaving your children home alone while you let loose, your ex may try to paint a picture of you as an irresponsible, neglectful parent who is out reliving her single days rather than staying at home with the children.
Refrain from discussing vacations or elaborate purchases. If you’re suddenly vacationing in tropical locales or buying an expensive new car or huge flat screen television, your spouse could try to argue that you hid assets during the marriage or are dissipating marital funds. Even if those accusations are far from the truth, dealing with discovery motions bent on uncovering your alleged secret stash of cash can not only prolong the divorce, but add to the cost and your stress levels as well.
Boca Raton Family Law Attorneys Here to Help
Divorce and child custody bring out a lot of emotions. At Schwartz | White, our Boca Raton divorce and child custody attorneys have a combined 50 years’ experience helping our clients navigate this difficult time with sensitivity and respect, all with an eye toward obtaining the settlement you deserve. Contact our office today at 561.391.9943 to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our attorneys.