For most social media users, it should be fairly obvious that what you post online lasts forever. Being cautious about what you share online is crucial, especially when dealing with a family law issue. What you say about yourself, your divorce and your ex online is not only public, but also discoverable in a family law proceeding, as we discussed last month.
Even with so much personal information out there, there are things you can do to prevent your situation from becoming bigger news than you want it to be. Here are three of them.
1. Avoid oversharing.
In an age where every meal you make or eat is potentially Instagram-worthy, many people are accustomed to broadcasting their lives online, especially when “big events” happen. Certainly divorce is a life-changing, big event.
Use discretion when deciding to announce your split online - if you do it at all. Maybe even consider getting your soon-to-be ex on board or let them know. Better yet, keep the details of your separation off your blog and social media feeds. An angry post or tweet might feel good in the moment, but the potential fallout may wind up hurting your case in the long run.
If it helps, surround yourself with a network of friends or family supporters to whom you can vent—offline. Consider finding a professional family therapist who can help you deal with the emotional trauma of divorce in healthy, productive ways.
2. Think carefully about what images and activities you post.
As we’ve discussed, images and posts about your latest vacation, newest purchase or wild night out can be used as evidence in your divorce case. Such evidence is often relevant in cases where you may be arguing that you cannot afford to pay alimony to your spouse or that you need alimony payments to get back on your feet financially after the divorce. If the pictures tell a different story, it could negatively impact your outcome.
This isn’t to say that you can’t take a vacation or have some fun while in the midst of a divorce. Just keep the details out of your newsfeed. Also, make sure friends and family do the same. Ask them to refrain from posting photos of you or about you for the time being, unless you give them permission.
3. Resist the urge to spy on your spouse.
Social media has made the world much more open, and connecting with people has never been easier. It’s tempting to check up on your ex and see what they’re doing, who they’re hanging out with and if they have a new “friend” already. Online snooping is rarely cathartic, however. It often only leads to more heartache.
Similarly, if you have or know the passwords for any of your former spouse’s accounts, do not use them. Logging into password-protected private accounts can quickly land you in hot water, even if what you find may be relevant to your case.
Always remember that the Internet, while a useful tool for connecting our world together, is a public forum, even if you have privacy settings on lock down for your accounts. If you wouldn’t share this information with everyone in a public space, don’t share it online. By avoiding these mistakes, you can maintain more control over how your divorce proceeds so that you can move forward with confidence.