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The Social Media Pre-Nup: Will This Legal Trend Take Off?
Posted on June 7th 2014
Pre-nuptial agreements are very common, especially in celebrity pairings; however, there’s one specific type that’s been casually referred to as a social media pre-nup, or simply a social media clause. It lays out the rules of what couples can share on social media and makes it clear when lines have been crossed. Keep reading to learn more about it and understand why it may become something that’s very popular for couples to pursue.
A Recent Phenomenon
According to an article from ABC News, Ann-Margaret Carrozza is a New York-based attorney who offers such clauses in the contracts she draws up for couples. She’s been doing pre and post-nuptial agreements for a decade, but says couples have been requesting a social media component of the legal documents for only about a couple of months. She points out, though, since it’s often impossible to completely erase evidence of damning information or photographs that have been published via social media, the trend will likely grow in popularity as time passes and social media becomes even more prominent.
Typical Stipulations of an Agreement
Like all legal documents, a social media pre-nup can be highly personalized to reflect the couple for which it is being written. Usually though, the document will forbid either party from posting photographs that would be considered embarrassing, including nude pictures. Furthermore, there’s usually phrasing that warns against posting something that could harm the reputation of a significant other, especially in the workplace.
A Slippery Slope
It’s easy to see why the lines of such specifics can sometimes seem blurred. If one participant in a romantic relationship has a role as the head web designer for a website and generally has a respectable reputation among his or her peers, he or she may not want to be tagged in a partner’s Facebook status update that mentions how the pair hung out with their friends all weekend.
Also, according to Carozza, even something as seemingly innocent of a bathing suit picture would need to be given the go-ahead under the terms of many pre-nuptial social media clauses. Presumably because what one partner might consider attractive, or even sexy, might be viewed as embarrassing or at least not meant for a public audience by the person who’s starring in the snapshot.
So, what’s the cost for violating one of these newfangled social media pre-nups? At least at Carozza’s office, she said clients who live in the vicinity and make less than $5 million per year tend to put in terms that spell out a $50,000 fine for a single post or tweet. That’s certainly enough to make most people think carefully before posting something a partner might find offensive.
If it’s any comfort though, clients usually do blanket agreements that cover all social media websites, so you usually wouldn’t have to worry about different fines for breaking the terms on Twitter versus Instagram.
A Way to Re-Draw the Boundaries
Social media pre-nups aren’t just gaining popularity in the Big Apple. Sheri Meyers is a family therapist based in Los Angeles. Not only has she appeared on television to talk about the benefits of social media prenuptial agreements, but she’s also writing a book on the subject.
Robert Weiss, an intimacy expert, also clarifies that the need for couples to have boundaries is certainly not new. Since social media has such a widespread reach, the need to have at least a conversation about what is and is not permitted to be broadcast via social media is much more urgent than it once was.
It’ll be interesting to see if a growing number of people decide to get social media clauses in their pre-nuptial agreements. However, even if you and your significant other don’t go that route, it might at least be useful to have a serious conversation about what’s appropriate for social media and which details should just stay between the two of you.
Image by infocux Technologies