March 23rd, 2020
I just attended a continuing education session about social media issues in family law. While I share many of these points with my clients already, it was a good reminder about how social media can impact divorce negotiations. Here are my top 10 tips to keep in mind about social media during divorce:
- Change your passwords to all your online accounts if you and your spouse have shared a computer. Consider removing your spouse as a friend who has access to your posts.
- If you do not have a personal (non-work related) email account, set one up. Emails with your attorney via your work email are NOT protected as confidential attorney client communications.
- Look at what is publically available about you on social media (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, dating websites, etc) and inform your attorney if there is any content that reflects negatively on you. Most posts are still legally discoverable after they are deleted. Better for your attorney to be ahead of the curve on this.
- Consider putting accounts on inactive status or simply logout and don’t use your account during the pendency of your divorce because less is better.
- If you do stay online, assume that anything you post could end up in front of a judge and use that as the standard for what you post, including images. Think about what you say, in text messages, emails, What’sApp, Facebook, etc.
- Look at who your friends are and who is receiving your information when you post. Shared friends can see everything and share what they see with your soon-to-be former spouse. You may not want friends playing “pigeon” between you. Friends can take screen shots of posts for your spouse.
- Check your privacy settings on your accounts. More secure is better rather than broad public access.
- Understand that social media is considered pubic information and is fair game in courts. Even “deleted” posts are not actually deleted. Did you know that The US Library of Congress archived every tweet on Twitter from 2010 until January 1, 2018 and currently they do it on a selective basis? Deleted Facebook posts remain on Facebook’s servers even after 18 months!
- What you think is posted as a joke can be easily misconstrued and result in significant damage to a co-parenting relationship.
- Remember that your children may receive information via social media that you did not intend them to know. Is your child or a friend of your child a “friend” on your social media accounts? Children should not learn information about their parents or the divorce via social media…including relationship status changes.
Because social media is an integral part of our daily lives, it I important that you stop, think and examine your use of social media and who has access to it during a divorce. Pause before you post something and seriously consider taking a hiatus from your social media during your divorce. The last thing you want is to think about it after the fact and wish you had done it differently.