Social media has become such an intrinsic part of most people's personal and professional lives that many do not think twice about sharing their thoughts, pictures and day-to-day activities with the online world. Through social media, you can stay in touch with family, share pictures with friends and loved ones, invite colleagues and business associates to review your work, promote a new or expanding business, express your opinions and receive broad publicity at little or no cost.
But if you are getting divorced, be extremely careful about how you use any social media site.
As social media opens our lives for all the world to see, it is important you do not make any statement, comment or post you may later regret. If what you are about to post, share or tweet is something you wouldn't say to someone's face in real life or you wouldn't want a particular person to see, don't put it on social media. Personal relationships and even careers can, at times, be put in jeopardy by how people use social media. In fact, back in July of 2014, CNBC reported a new study found a direct correlation between use of social media and divorce rates here in the United States.
According to the study's state-by-state analysis, as small as "a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with anywhere from a 2.18 percent to a 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates depending on the model used." Using data gathered from survey results, the study was also able to predict that individuals who constantly use social media are approximately 11 percent unhappier in their marriages than those individuals who do not use or rarely use social media.
Did You Know Your Social Media Posts Can and Will Likely Be Used Against You In a Divorce?
In addition to the negative impact social media can potentially have on an individual's marriage, did you know your social media posts can and will likely be used against you should you choose to file for divorce? It's true. Attorneys have seen a dramatic increase in use of electronic data in divorce cases over the past few years. Nowadays, any messages, photos or electronic information you have posted on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest or Flickr can become public domain and can be obtained by your wife or her attorney for use in building a case against you in a divorce.
Based on your photos, the comments you make, as well as where and with whom you spend your time, you could be inadvertently providing your spouse with the evidence she needs to prove reckless behavior, an extramarital affair, substance abuse, extravagant spending, unfit parenting or anything else which could turn the tables in your divorce to her favor.
The following are just a few examples of social media faux pas that could significantly affect how your marital property gets divided, how spousal support is determined, as well as how issues pertaining to child custody, support or visitation rights are resolved:
Posting pictures of your travels:
While it may be nice to share your adventures with family and friends, such photos could be used to show you are being too frivolous with your money, you are attempting to spend your reserves so as to reduce your personal worth, or your travels make you unreliable and unavailable to your children.
Tweeting or posting about a new love interest:
While your marriage may be all but over, until your divorce is finalized, you do not want to post anything about someone you are dating, regardless of how casual or serious the relationship may be. These types of social media posts can often fuel the fire and lead to complications in negotiating a fair and just divorce settlement agreement.
Making innocent, yet flirtatious comments in response to other people's posts:
Sometimes people do not realize their comments could be construed as flirtatious. If your wife senses you are being flirtatious, it could lead to accusations of infidelity or extramarital affairs.
Talking about or posting pictures which could indicate a lifestyle less than "ideal" for parenting:
When going through a divorce, it's common for men to want to let off a little steam, go out with friends, party, etc. You do need to be wary however, as pictures or posts about your drinking, excessive partying or carefree lifestyle could be used to fuel claims of negligence, unfit parenting or adultery.
Making snide comments or remarks about your soon-to-be ex:
Making any type of negative remarks or snide comment about your soon-to-be ex-wife is ill-advised. Even if you are angry, you do not want something you say in the heat of the moment to affect you for the rest of your life. Think about your future and the other people you care about, and keep the comments to yourself.
Due to the nature of some social media posts, you could end up causing harm to your own case simply as a result of the things you say and do. There's no reason for you to make it more difficult to prove your case. Keeping your personal life private can help eliminate the risk of social media's effect.
It's Not Only Your Posts That Can Impact the Outcome of Your Case
Now that you understand how social media can be used to harm your case, you must also realize it is not only your posts that can impact the outcome of your case. Pictures posted by friends and loved ones, photos from parties or nights out on the town, comments others make about your divorce or how you are faring (regardless of whether or not you are tagged or mentioned by name), might have an adverse effect on your case. There are even instances when pictures from long ago may resurface on social media, only to be used against you by your spouse.
Importance of Restricting Social Media Usage During Divorce Proceedings
If you are planning on filing for divorce, or you currently going through a divorce, it is important you restrict your social media usage at least until divorce proceedings have ended and a divorce agreement has been finalized. Even after your divorce is final, try to refrain from making comments or engaging in activities that could adversely affect impact your divorce agreement or cause your ex to request a modification of the settlement agreement.