Social media is an integral part of our daily lives, and sites such as Facebook and Twitter encourage you to share your thoughts and activities with others. However, if you’re going through a separation or divorce, it’s wise to be aware of some of the pitfalls when using social media. It’s becoming increasingly common for evidence to be used from social media to support an allegation about a spouse or parent’s behaviour during financial and/or children proceedings.
It’s important that you seek legal advice from a specialist family solicitor if you are not sure how your social media activity is likely to be viewed. I recommend that you keep your online presence neutral as much as possible. Perhaps even discuss with your ex how you will communicate online during the initial period of separation, especially when there are children involved.
Here are some tips on social media etiquette following a separation:
1. Before you post a status or a tweet, consider how your ex is likely to view it. Avoid posting in haste. If you’re not sure, ask a trusted friend or relative first. Any status or tweet could be used against you, and even if you decide to later delete it, it is possible that someone has already taken a screenshot of it.
2. If you are finding the break-up difficult, consider hiding your ex’s updates or ‘unfriend’ him/her to avoid any chance of their online posts upsetting you. It may be that a short-term digital detox is needed to help you move on especially if you are close to reaching a financial settlement. You want to avoid derailing the process as it could cost you both more in legal fees.
3. Staying connected with your ex can be helpful if you believe they are not being truthful about their financial circumstances or you consider they are not putting the welfare of the children first. Photographs and ‘check-ins’ posted on social media can give you an insight into your ex’s lifestyle post separation, for example, evidence of splurges could potentially undermine an argument about their financial resources or earning capacity.
4. If you form a new relationship, consider if and how you announce this online. Photographs of you and your new partner in a property could be used as evidence of cohabitation, and has the potential to derail the financial negotiations. Even if you’re not friends with your ex online, consider any mutual friends you have as they may share the information with your ex. Perhaps limit your content to a small number of people, and double check your online privacy settings.
5. If there is a dispute about the care of the children, consider how you portray your lifestyle and your relationship with them. A parent could use evidence from social media to prove the other parent’s care of the children. Sometimes, it can upset the other parent if you are posting pictures of the children and ‘checking-in’ to places which the other parent may not be able to afford. Being sensitive to the other is key to a less stressful separation.
6. Avoid posting details about your divorce, financial or children proceedings online. This information is confidential. If you divulge information about your case online, then it could compromise your case.