Like probably most Americans, I can find myself addicted to social media. With the invent of smart phones, it follows us everywhere, and is an ever-ready source of entertainment almost whenever we would like (Isn’t it cruel that grocery stores don’t have WI-FI?). As you are also aware, social media can also be the source of discontent. Many of our friends and family are not content to only share their positive or productive thoughts, but would rather regurgitate every negative or passive aggressive thought they have ever had to the entire world. This social media promiscuity is further fanned in times of distress, such as ending a marriage. Because so many of us have disregarded friendly advice about such public posting in the past, or if you are unlucky enough not to have friends that call you out on it, here are several things NOT to do on social media during your divorce.
Not Cleaning up Your Profile
Sorry for the double negative there, but it could not be helped. If you are young enough to have had social media during college, you have very likely done what I like to call a Facebook purge. Not only do you unfriend all those people you did not even like in high school, but you start un-tagging yourself from all the photographs where you are (insert your preferred synonym for ‘intoxicated’), or maybe even were engaging in an illegal activity. Undergrads are dumb, and you probably were too at some point. C’est la vie, but that is no reason to keep that stuff up. Character evidence is perfectly admissible when kids are involved, and you do not want anything to mar that beautiful person you are presenting to the judge and guardian. Do not rely on “privacy,” either take it down, or ask that the poster take it down.
Making your Profile look like you are “Super Parent”
This is the other side of the profile coin. Our office does lots of guardian ad litem work, and you can make a pretty good bet, that if someone is involved in a custody dispute, whether private or brought as a result of alleged abuse, neglect, etc., that their profile picture will have their kids in it, and the whole of their pictures will make it seem like they are Mother Theresa 24/7/365. It is wise to clean up any discrediting posts or pictures, but doing this to extremes is obvious and appears disingenuous. The guardian knows you love your children, and no restructuring of your Facebook page is going to make the children’s lives with you seem like Pinterst while with your ex it is Craig’s List.
Posting Negative or Passive-Aggressive Messages or Pictures
Don’t you love when your friends post woe-is-me messages or poems on social media? No, you don’t. Not only is your online venting probably going to lower the number of people who take you seriously, but it will only compound your grief, sorrow, and/or anger. Sharing troubles is for friends, family, clergymen, and bartenders, not social media.
Harassing, Angry, or Otherwise Unpleasant Communications
I saved the best for last. Don’t… do… it… Don’t do it. Criminal attorneys tell their clients they have nothing to say to the police. Family law attorneys tell their clients they have nothing to say to their ex, certainly not on a forum that lasts forever and keeps very good records. Never put anything on social media you are not comfortable with the whole world seeing. That includes “private” messages. This rule extends to third parties as well, like girl/boyfriends and new spouses. It is very likely you are angry, and probably have plenty of reasons to be, but don’t go ruining your divorce arguments by looking like a psychopath on the internet.
We all love social media. It keeps us informed, allows us to stay connected to old friends, and provides us with amusing pictures of animals. However, with the increased ease of communication has come an increased ease to shoot one’s divorce case in the foot. Use good judgment, do not write about the matter online, and keep your cool. It will all be over soon.