Written By Kara Francis
In today’s day and age, it’s become second nature to share every moment of our lives with the world on our social media accounts. From Instagram, to TikTok, to the latest social media sites the kids are using, the possibilities for connection are endless.
But if you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, it’s important to be aware of your social media posts and the impact your social media use can have on you and your case. Simply put, divorce and social media don’t always mix well.
Here are 3 social media tips, to ensure that your latest Instagram post doesn’t end up being used as Exhibit 55 in your child custody trial six months from now. (Of course, for formal legal advice on this topic, consult with your attorney.)
BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY
It’s really tempting to use social media during your divorce to share your emotions, struggles and details about your case online. It can feel cathartic to just let it all out on your social media account, instead of bottling it up inside.
But badmouthing your spouse or sharing details about your divorce on your social media pages could really backfire. Your spouse’s divorce attorney can issue a document request or a subpoena, requesting copies of every single social media post by you for a certain period of time. If the judge ultimately allows that information into evidence, it could have severe consequences in your divorce case.
For example, if your posts reflect anger, hostility, and an inability to get along with the other parent, if you post intimate pictures, or if you constantly post pictures of you partying and surrounded by alcohol or drugs, this could all impact the judge’s rulings in the custody case, depending on the family law statute in your state. The other party could even try to argue you are an unfit parent based on the content you post online. Even if this argument doesn’t ultimately sway the judge, it’s costly and takes time to debunk it.
On the financial side, if you are showcasing your luxurious lifestyle and new purchases, or if you are posting your new boyfriend or girlfriend left and right, divorce attorneys could try to use that information to argue that you don’t need spousal support, or you are frivolously wasting marital assets on new things and new people. To avoid these potential problems in the divorce process, limit your posting activity to general information about your life, and don’t dive too deeply.
At the very least, these types of posts will irritate your spouse, raise the tension and negative energy in the case, and could prevent a settlement due to emotions getting in the way. You are getting in your own way here!
These same rules apply for posts you get tagged in – pay attention to the tags, and remove any inappropriate tags that could be fodder for your spouse. In fact, ask your family and friends to refrain from tagging you period while you are going through a divorce. As an extra precaution, change your passwords, and set your profile at the highest privacy settings.
The safest way to vent is not by posting online; it’s in-person with your friends, other family members, coach or therapist. And the same goes for text messages – don’t put negative information in writing to your spouse. During a divorce, he/she is strictly on a “need to know” basis. This may seem harsh, but it will make the process easier.
Before you post anything, think twice: Would I want this to be used in court later? Would most people sitting in my spouse’s shoes be upset if this was posted online? If the answers to these questions are NO and YES, respectfully, then avoid posting.
BE MINDFUL OF HOW SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES YOU FEEL
While using social media can be a fun escape from the doldrums of daily life, it can also really bring you down, especially if you are going through a divorce. You’re scrolling through an endless feed of influencers who seem to have it all together, and families who seem super happy and intact. This can make you feel insecure and depressed that your life isn’t as shiny or “perfect” as other people’s lives seem to be.
Social media can also distract you from being present in your life. Divorce is an emotionally charged process, and there are lots of changes happening. By burying your head in the sand (i.e. your phone), you are missing out on an opportunity to fully process your emotions and be present in the moment. This “hard time” is where all the learning and growing happens!! But you’re going to miss it if you are living in Instagram story land, and that would truly be a shame.
Ask yourself: What am I getting when I use social media? How does it make me feel? If you need to disconnect, there’s no shame in that. Take a break!
CONSIDER UNFOLLOWING OR MUTING YOUR SPOUSE
We have all been there: snooping on your ex’s social media page to see what they’re doing, who they’re dating, and how unhappy they certainly must be without you in their life. It’s natural to be curious about what’s happening with your ex. These days, you may even see your spouse on online dating apps, which is one of the most common ways to move on after divorce.
But it never ends well, does it? We always walk away feeling a pit in our stomach and sad that our ex has moved on, even if we know that ending the relationship was 100% the right decision. These feelings are completely normal – after all, you loved this person at one point in your life, and seeing them happy with someone else is going to sting.
Here’s a thought – unfollow or mute your spouse on social media. At best, it removes their activity from your feed, so it’s out of sight, out of mind. And at the very least, if you have to go out of your way to visit their page after you unfollow or mute, it forces you to pause and really think about whether you absolutely need to check in on them. Chances are, you don’t.