Social Media is a permanent and public diary; you might find this an exaggerated definition however in divorce proceedings it’s pretty accurate. The advent of Twitter and Facebook has created a society which ‘shares’ constantly: the things we like, what we do, where we go, how we feel. Scrolling through a social media feed will show a seemingly endless record of feelings, places, likes, dislikes, interests, relationships, cries for help. But what is the danger of this? For anyone going through a divorce an online record can come back to haunt them during proceedings, things that you thought were perfectly innocent could be construed to mean something very different. Your character will be questioned, criticised and probed all based on who you are on Facebook.
Clients should be wary and follow our four golden rules for social media during a divorce
What does it say about me?
During the turmoil of a divorce it is perfectly common for you to act outside of your usual character; perhaps you start drinking more than you usually would, you might post infuriated updates about your ex or stay out late with friends. Whilst all of these instances are understandable in the circumstances, it might be construed that you show poor parental judgement, drink too much and have an anger problem. This could all of course be detrimental to your case, especially if it involves child matters.
Bite your tongue, silence your keyboard
Sometimes in divorce proceedings there are situations which are very upsetting or decisions made which seem unfair and unjust. Posting anything about a judgement or the judge is never a good idea and probably won’t sit well if it ever comes to their attention. Bad-mouthing your former partner is also big no-no as disparaging the other party or allowing your “friends” to do so online will be frowned upon. Remember your posts might be used tactically in court or outside of court . as emotional ammunition.
Privacy and who you can trust
You might be reading this thinking ‘I’m fine my profile is private’. This is a common pitfall in legal proceedings. Your profile might be set up so only your “friends” can see what you post but have you remembered who your “friends” are? Your former partner only need contact one of your online connections to get complete access to your profile, have you forgotten your sister in law, or your ex’s best friend – are they still in your friends list – even your ex might be there. Go through your list and question your relationship to the people you are connected to, more importantly question your former partners relationship with them. Sometimes even if you are online friends with your children, this could be used as a way to access your “private” profile, if they use the computer at your former partners house or even leave their devices around. The safest option is to trust nobody for the time being, or at least be very selective in what you post and who you post it to.
There are things which give us a giggle online, in return for the giggle we give the post a “like” or a “share”. Others don’t always see what we like or comment on as tasteful and unfortunately that can include a judge. Be conscious of what you are liking and commenting on as this can be used to suggest all kinds of mistruths about who you are as a person. How many times has a text you sent sent someone been seen as aggressive or rude when there was no such intention? This is the same for things you post you might think that it is clear and your meaning unambiguous, but written communication always runs the risk of being read in a different way. Be careful when posting pictures especially ones which show you having a glass of wine, on a night out or anything that could construed in the wrong way, look twice or even better just don’t post any. Be mindful of any terms or court orders imposed by a judge, question whether anything you post could be deemed as a breach of those terms, even if in reality it isn’t.
The moral of this article is to always exercise caution when posting, tweeting, likeing or sharing anything online. Perhaps the best advice is to deactivate social media profiles, at the very least whilst proceedings are on-going and especially if there are contested child matters. Everything can be misunderstood and the consequences of misinterpretation can be sometimes extremely detrimental. Pause, consider, unplug.