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Social media best practices during a divorce: Consider the risks

In my daily life before I make any decision of consequence I always ask myself the following question: “Will my doing (insert specific action here) benefit me or my family in any way?”. If the answer to that question is “No”. Then I don’t do whatever it is I was considering doing. Next, I will ask myself if there are any benefits to the action if there are any negative consequences that come along with those benefits. This is where we as human beings run into problems.

So much of our lives are spent deciding if performing a certain activity was worth it or not. A phrase I think about often is: “Was the juice worth the squeeze”? Basically, we as functioning adults need to ask ourselves was the effort to do something worth it in the long run?

In a divorce case, I have had the opportunity to represent a wide array of folks that live in our community. Most of them were active to one degree or another in the world of social media. Older or younger, male or female it did not matter. We live in a world where social media is prevalent and when you family and friends are active you become active as well.

Social media usage can be beneficial in some circumstances

Most social media usage is harmless. Posting photographs, commenting on how big the grandkids have become, etc. Nothing that requires second thought. This is the pinnacle of social media use in my opinion. Where all you receive are beneficial results of the usage I can’t argue against it. A quick perusal once a day for your family and friends and then the laptop screen is closed and you are on to the rest of your non-digital life. I don’t see much of an opportunity for there to be negative consequences associated with this behavior.

Risks associated with social media use are plentiful

However, social media can take on more negative attributes for some people. Unfortunately I have seen men and women stray from their marriages due to the availability of social media in their lives. Perhaps their marriages may have failed anyways, but social media allowed a spouse to reunite with an old girl/boyfriend and then the rest is history.

Even if your social media usage is more benign than this, there are still dangers and pitfalls to be aware of and avoid during your divorce. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will center around the topic of social media usage and its benefits and consequences.

Limit or eliminate your usage of social media during your divorce

Many people use social media as a method of escapism. Your day to day life may be stressful or tedious or difficult or whatever adjective you would like to use. However, simply logging on to a website filled with people you know (and many you don’t) can help deliver you to another world that is more or less of your choosing. You get to pick who you see and who you don’t in the world of social media. You choose the conversations you get to engage in. You can choose to respond to comments and then ignore the responses that your comments generate. In short, social media is the ultimate in one way communication.

Social media can also lull us into a false sense of security. If you spend your days interacting with 10 people on social media I am willing to bet that you are more likely to share information, photos and details of your life with these folks more readily in an online environment than you would be if you were having a dialogue with the person in real life. We get a level of comfort from sitting in front of a computer screen with a keyboard between us and the online world. What’s more- you can do so all from the comfort of your living room. Sounds pretty safe to me, right?

Unfortunately it is my experience with folks going through a divorce that social media presents mostly negative consequences for people that continuously use it for the duration of their case. Divorce brings about emotions like resentment, anger, jealously and sadness that bubble to surface and can remain there for days and weeks at a time. If you see a family member or even your spouse post something online that bothers or upsets you it may be that you use the ease and comfort of social media to lash out at that person or at the very least state things that you otherwise would not be comfortable doing.

Keep in mind that social media postings are very much admissible into the record of evidence in your divorce. Attorneys are not only adept at searching social media websites for potential evidence, but we will help our clients to learn what to look for and how to capture images and postings that we can use to our client’s advantages. It only takes an instant for a bad decision to post something online to become a lifetime of regret due to that posting having a negative affect on your divorce.

This is why I advise clients to stay away from social media altogether during the divorce case or to at least limit its usage. Maybe you have the self control to just log on to look at the aforementioned photos of relatives and friends without posting your own information or responding to a comment or post of another person. Many are not, however. You need to know yourself and your tendencies before engaging in social media during your divorce. If you cannot be assured to act responsibly in regard to social media my advice is to abstain completely.

If you come across postings made by your spouse tell your attorney

By the same token, just because you are disciplined and follow my advice to not utilize social media during your divorce does not mean your spouse will do the same. In fact, in your surfing the web you may come across postings made by your spouse on social media that draw attention to your divorce in some way, are critical of you, or even are critical of the judge in your case. Many people make foolish decisions to do things like post photos of the new significant other or a fancy new purchase like a vehicle or jewelry.

Any postings like this that you observe online should be brought to the attention of your attorney. Even if the postings are not something that is relevant to your divorce you should not be the one to make that final determination. Allow your attorney to review the postings with you and ask you questions about them. Maybe a post doesn’t immediately make sense to your attorney but you can show him or her the significance of it in the context of your divorce.

You and your spouse are likely under orders from the judge to not discuss your divorce with your children or to speak negatively about one another in public. When your older children have access to social media postings from parents can be brought to the attention of your kids inadvertently. Your spouse’s post or photos may violate multiple temporary orders of the judge. If this becomes habitual then your spouse’s attorney should be made aware of it or a hearing may need to be called to address the postings with the judge. Either way- allow your spouse to make these mistakes, not you.

Questions about social media use in your divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC appreciate the opportunity to share this information with you today. If you have any questions about what you’ve read please do not hesitate to contact our office. We would be happy to set up an appointment with one of our licensed family law attorneys to discuss your case and address your questions. We are available to meet with you six days a week.

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