On behalf of Shelly McKeon
Marriages end for a variety of reasons, but one would have never pegged Facebook as a leading factor. According to a survey by Divorce Online, the word “Facebook” was a part of one third of all divorce filings in 2011. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says over 80 percent of divorce lawyers in the United States claim that social networking evidence has been used more and more in divorce cases since 2006.
How Social Media Affects Divorce Proceedings
The most cited reasons for including Facebook evidence in divorce proceedings were:
- Negative comments or posts about the spouse or between spouses
- Improper social messages to members of the opposite sex
Attorneys often warn their clients to be mindful of what they post on Facebook and even what others post about them. Tagged photographs or location check-ins can have negative implications for divorce proceedings. They can be used as evidence in child custody, alimony or parenting time determinations.
How to Safely Use Social Media During a Divorce
There are ways, however, one can stay connected with friends online and go through the divorce process at the same time. Most social media experts advise divorcing couples to think before they post. Posting disparaging remarks about a spouse online is never a wise idea. Similarly, pictures can be used to show bad parenting and other issues during a divorce. Status updates can also be a problem because they are given without much context and both parties already have high emotions flowing.
Divorcing spouses should also do what they can to keep their social media lives separate. Even in friendly divorces, feelings may change and social media posts can turn on spouses. For example, joining dating sites or changing relationship statuses to single before divorces are final may be used to prove infidelity. Lastly, try not to post your location, that way nobody can say that their spouses was somewhere they were not supposed to be.
Individuals going through divorce that are concerned about social media should consider contacting a family law attorney in their area.