There has been plenty of coverage on the roles of Facebook and other social media sites in the breakdown of marriages. Yet little attention seems to be given to the impact that social media can have when you’re actually going through a divorce.
In this blog we have put together our top tips for using social media when you have recently separated:
- THE GOLDEN RULE: Remember, when you post something on social media, you are publishing it to the world, just as much as if you took out an advert on the front page of a newspaper. Comments can spread like wildfire, and can be raised in contexts you never imagined. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re angry and upset. The golden rule is never to post anything to social media about your feelings or lifestyle that you wouldn’t say face-to-face to your ex, your parents, your boss or, in some circumstances, a judge making decisions about your divorce or your children.
- Don’t be tempted to post comments about each other, your separation, or the arrangements for your children’s care. You may feel like letting off steam, or you may want sympathy from your friends, but whatever you say can be misconstrued, or reported back (changing with each report like the game of Chinese whispers) to your ex-partner, or spouse, or other family members. You’d be amazed by the number of arguments we see caused by Facebook posts, and these arguments inevitably make it harder to maintain good communication between you and your ex while you’re going through a divorce.
- Discourage your friends and family from making comments about the divorce or separation. A couple can be working really hard to be able to talk to each other and some unhelpful comments by a friend or family member can derail the progress they’ve made. If these comments are made online then they are seen by more people which means more people are likely to become involved.
- You need to take extra care with your social media accounts if your children have access to them. Even if your children are too young to have their own social media accounts, they may get access to the internet at school, or through friends or family. Remember that they may be able to access Facebook or Twitter at home through a shared tablet or phone. You may be being careful about what you say, but they may come across a comment by someone else. Always ensure that you have age appropriate restrictions on devices used by children.
- A bit off topic, but it’s worth remembering, too, that if you and your ex have a number of devices registered to the same cloud or Apple account, messages and pictures that you send or receive can show up on your ex’s phone or tablet. Don’t inadvertently over-share!
- Change your social media account passwords (and your email passwords too). When couples live happily together they often know each other’s passwords. They may even have joint email and social media accounts. This will no longer be sensible in the event of a separation or divorce. From this point forwards it is wise to have separate accounts with your own passwords that are not known to the other person (or likely to be guessed by them).
- Avoid using social media accounts to spy on each other. It can be addictive keeping track of how your ex-spouse or partner is feeling, who they are meeting or what they are doing, but the reality is that many people find that kind of scrutiny intrusive and unwelcome. You don’t want to be accused of cyber-stalking your ex, and, actually, it’s likely to be better for your own wellbeing if you can break the habit! An hour spent talking to a friend or a counsellor will leave you feeling more positive than an hour spent pouring over Facebook entries or Instagram photos.
- If you are the subject of abuse online as a result of a separation or divorce then make sure you screenshot the comments so you have evidence. You may want to consider reporting this to the police, and your solicitor too (if you have one). Remember that you can block the people responsible rather than engaging in a tit for tat exchange. There are digital reputation management agencies around who can help you to manage or even remove offensive posts.
Overall, using dispute resolution processes can really help to promote an amicable settlement and to focus constructively on making arrangements that work for you and your family. Don’t risk undermining that by using social media in a way that is likely to damage discussions between you.
For further information on the dispute resolution processes offered by our team of talented divorce and family lawyers at Family Law in Partnership, visit our website page or call us on T: 020 7420 5000 or E: email@example.com.