It’s 2023. Oversharing on social media is the norm for so many. And interestingly, social media use upticks as spouses are contemplating divorce.
A 2014 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found a correlation between increased social media usage, decreasing relationship satisfaction and increasing divorce contemplation. So, it’s no surprise that those who are divorcing tend to share information about their marital strife on social media.
However, when you’re going through a divorce, you might want to think twice before clicking “POST.”
Here are some scenarios that I have seen cause trouble for divorcing individuals on social media that you should consider avoiding:
1. Badmouthing your spouse: Social media is public. So public, that one Google search could lead your children to see what you really think about their other parent. Consider the fact that you wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) stand in a public square in front of your estranged partner or your children and speak about your relationship difficulties. The same should be true on social media.
2. Airing grievances concerning your children: While it may sound rare, public social media complaints about children’s schools, doctors, or friendships is actually more common than you would think. Maybe you’re just tying to get a pet peeve off your chest or even resolve a lingering issue, but consider that you may be divulging private information about your children’s educational difficulties, diagnoses, or other identifiers in a way that invades their privacy and is contrary to their best interests. It could be something a Court would consider in assessing the custody factors.
3. Posting about your extravagances: Sure, you want to publicize that you’re living your best post-separation life on a yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean, but if you’re also in Court making a claim that you can’t afford to pay support, or in the alternative, that you desperately need support, perhaps think twice. While someone else may be footing the bill for these extravagances, it’s still not a great look if you’re embroiled in a fight about money. It also raises questions about money you may be receiving from other sources.
4. Publicizing a new relationship: You may just be posting about your daily goings-on with a new romantic interest, but if you are making a claim for alimony, this may be very consequential. Alimony is suspended or terminated if the recipient is cohabiting with an unrelated partner in a relationship tantamount to marriage. With enough evidence about the nature of your new relationship, degree of overnights, and intertwinement of finances, you could end up tanking your entire alimony case. Facebook evidence is gold when it comes to proving cohabitation, so keep that in mind as you’re in your new relationship bliss.
5. Post-Separation Escapades: While it is enticing to share the details of your new-found freedom with the world, refrain from posting photographs showing you out partying all night, drinking to excess, or out of the home for prolonged periods. If you’re in the midst of a custody case, your spouse could use that to show you are not spending enough time with the children and should not be granted custody as a result.
Lawyers use social media to gain evidence necessary to establish facts in a case. Consider the following to lawyer-proof your social media use during a divorce:
- Take a hiatus from social media altogether if you’re going through a divorce or custody battle.
- Direct your family not to post anything negative about your marriage or your spouse in a public forum. Of course, it goes without sayin that you shouldn’t post anything controversial about your spouse either.
- Don’t engage in discussions concerning your divorce, your spouse, or your children, even in comments sections.
- Think about making your account private and remove your spouse a as a connection.
- Change passwords and recovery emails to ensure your spouse cannot access your accounts.
As always, if you have any questions concerning social media use during a divorce, you should ask a lawyer.
Eliana T. Baer is a contributor to the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and a partner in the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Eliana practices in Fox Rothschild’s Princeton, New Jersey office and focuses her state-wide practice on representing clients on issues relating to divorce, equitable distribution, support, custody, adoption, domestic violence, premarital agreements and Appellate Practice. You can reach Eliana at (609) 895-3344, or firstname.lastname@example.org.