Using Social Media During a Divorce
Many people may be concerned that social media has had a negative effect on their marriage. However, social media can also have a negative effect on divorce. People who are going through a divorce in New Jersey may keep some key guidelines and tips in mind in order to avoid further problems brought about by sharing too much on social media during a challenging time.
Social Media and Divorce
Various researchers have found links between social media usage and marital happiness, although there may be various factors that contribute to that linkage, from the age, careers and socioeconomic level of people who are more likely to use social media to the amount of time spent on different applications. One study found that Facebook has been cited in one-fifth of American divorces, whether related to infidelity that began online or negative posts during the divorce itself.
When people decide to divorce, the vast majority of divorce attorneys report that their clients look for evidence of their spouse’s misconduct online, from misuse of funds to hidden investments to online infidelity. Once the decision to divorce is made, however, people may need to think about how they use social media. While many people feel a close connection to online friends and may use social media to vent about various problems in their lives, a family law attorney might advise them to be wary about what they post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
In fact, many experts advise avoiding social media altogether during the divorce. When people browse their soon-to-be-ex spouse’s page, they may believe that they are getting over the divorce faster and more easily. People tend to depict themselves in the best light possible on social media, so it is a poor way to get insight into another person’s emotional state. Staying away from social media could help you to focus on in-person support from friends and family, caring for children, and other major interests.
However, many people have close online relationships and friendships. For more still, social media is essential for their professional lives. They may work as a social media manager, and writers, artists, journalists and others are almost required to retain an active presence. Though there are many great reasons to stay on social media, caution is important.
Staying Careful on Social Media
Keep in mind that whatever you post on many platforms is relatively public. Even if you have a locked Twitter account or a limited Facebook account, it is easy for people to take a screenshot to pass it on. Be careful about what you post, especially if you do not want to see it come back in family court proceedings later. This guideline is especially important if you are a parent. Avoiding public negative talk about the other parent can be key to establishing a positive co-parenting relationship. In addition, it is good to keep in mind that your kids may also find out nearly anything you write online. If your friends or family might post about the divorce, ask them to be wise as well, especially if the divorce is high-conflict or there is a potentially challenging custody question.
While putting your best foot forward on social media is not always fully accurate, this does not mean that it is a negative thing to do. Post about your interests, the things you do that you enjoy and other positive information, especially if it is relatively impersonal. Be aware that if you post for the first time about a new partner on social media, your soon-to-be-ex is also likely to see it. Until the divorce is final, you may want to choose discretion.
Of course, privacy settings are an important part of getting through a divorce while staying active on social media. Prune your friends list for people who are primarily friends or relatives of your spouse. You could always move people to a lower level of access if you do not want to unfriend them or remove them as followers. You may also benefit from blocking your soon-to-be-ex. Even if you share children, you likely have other ways to communicate rather than DMs on social media. Talk with your family lawyer about the best ways that you can stay safe and careful online while divorcing.
If you are concerned about stalking or harassment from your former partner, privacy can be especially important. Do not allow others to tag you in photos and keep your location information vague or absent. You can remove or hide your relationship status entirely while the divorce is pending, or you could choose to change it after the divorce is final. If you are concerned about cyberstalking, consult with your divorce attorney about the actions you can take to protect yourself.
Cyber-harassment is considered a form of domestic violence in New Jersey. Similarly, if you are the victim of other types of online harassment, like revenge porn, you may be able not only to have the content taken down but also to pursue criminal charges against those responsible.
Your Divorce Case on Social Media
One of the key tips for handling social media during a divorce is to not post about your divorce case itself online. A New Jersey divorce lawyer may advise you to avoid making any posts that concern the matters at stake in your divorce, including property division, child custody and spousal support. You have a space, in the courtroom and during negotiations or mediation, to express your position on these issues, and you could potentially harm your image or reputation before the court by making social media posts about these delicate matters.
Similarly, try to avoid launching an investigation into your spouse online. If you need to hire an expert to gather information that could affect your case, speak with your divorce lawyer about the next steps. Social media sleuthing is rarely the best way to get the information you need, especially if it involves creating false accounts to get around privacy blocks or other evasive actions. People may reveal important information online — for example, about undisclosed financial accounts — but others may be better placed to process that information.
It is also worth Googling yourself to see what information is out there online. If you have damaging posts or other information about you on the internet, consult with your family law attorney about your options for reputation management. If your former partner is posting negative or defamatory information about you, you may also be able to handle this as part of the divorce case.
Social Media and Your Children
If you are a parent, this advice is even more essential. It can be especially important to monitor your child’s social media use during a stressful time like a parental divorce. This can be part of providing them with other support, like access to a counselor or therapist. It is important to know what your child is thinking and feeling during the divorce, and keeping quiet on your own social media can be a form of child protection and safeguarding.
Children going through emotional turmoil may be at particular risk for approaches from online predators or groomers or for cyberbullying. Keeping an eye on your children’s social media during a divorce and maintaining a close, loving relationship without bashing the other parent can help to protect your kids from these online threats as well.
Negative posts about the other parent may be seen as a potential risk of parental alienation. If you are dealing with child custody matters, you should discuss your interactions with your family law attorney before engaging in any public or social media discussion of your situation.
Consult Your New Jersey Family Lawyer
If you are planning to divorce, a family law attorney may provide strong representation and advice throughout the process. Contact the experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law by calling 908-645-1000 or using our convenient, easy online form for a consultation at our Watchung or Red Bank, New Jersey, office.