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Use social media responsibly during divorce

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If you are going through a divorce, your family law attorney may have cautioned you about your use of social media during the proceedings. Listen to him or her, as according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of their membership have garnered useful evidence against their clients' spouses from the spouses' social media posts.

Even the president's son hasn't escaped the perils of social media posts, as some of his controversial tweets have allegedly been partially to blame for Donald Trump, Jr.'s pending divorce from wife Vanessa.

Can Facebook posts doom your divorce?

About 20 percent of adults in the last decade used Facebook to flirt, the American Life Project and Pew Internet jointly reported. But that's just the bottom of the barrel of claims related to social media that attorneys around the country have noted they have seen in their own divorce and custody cases, which include:

  • Fathers logging onto dating sites as single, childless men simultaneously while seeking primary custody of their children.
  • Attorney subpoenaed evidence from gaming sites detailing a parent's extended screen time during her allotted time with her children.
  • Spouse states he has no anger issues, then makes a Facebook post stating, "If you have the [guts] to get in my face, I'll kick your [butt] into submission."
  • Mother swears in court that she doesn't smoke pot. Her Facebook page has posts of her partying and smoking pot.

One attorney attributes this to naivete on the part of divorcing spouses, adding, "You're finding information that you just never get in the normal discovery process — ever . . . People don't yet quite connect what they're saying in their divorce cases is completely different from what they're saying on Facebook. It doesn't even occur to them that they'd be found out."

Below are some tips regarding social media usage for those undergoing divorce and custody cases from family law attorneys around the United States:

  • Your online postings can, and likely will, be held against you.
  • Beware what you say or write to "frenemies." Not all who appear to be your friends truly are.
  • Ask yourself before hitting send if you would want the judge in your custody case reading that post or seeing that photo, "like" or share.
  • That picture you posted could deprive you of the custody of your children.
  • Learn how to effectively manage your privacy settings, but realize a subpoena can reveal all. Also, it only takes one screenshot of you in a compromising position to tank your case.

Divorce and contested custody cases are stressful to endure. It's natural to want an outlet for your feelings of anger and outrage, but social media sites are not an appropriate venue for venting. If you are struggling to come to terms with your divorce status, ask your Gaithersburg family law attorney for a referral for some short-term counseling to get you back on track.

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