Social Savvy—Don’t let social media posts derail your divorce case: 8 tips for playing it smart and safe

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Social media is ingrained in our lives. We use it to keep up with friends and show off our great outfits, beautiful brunches, or blooming gardens. We post about how great our holiday party or vacation was, celebrate achievements at work, and say how proud we are of our children.

Most of us hardly think twice about sharing details of our many-faceted personal lives on social media, in both words and pictures.

But when you’re going through a divorce, it’s crucial to not only think twice but completely rethink and revamp your relationship with social media.

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither spouse must prove wrongdoing to obtain a divorce, and the court will not consider the grounds. But that doesn’t mean your behavior on social media won’t impact your case.

You can be sure your ex’s legal team will leave no stone unturned in digging up dirt on you. Careless and indiscriminate use of social media can not only expose a treasure trove of incriminating evidence—it can also make it all too easy to misconstrue and misrepresent even innocent images and comments. This evidence can affect crucial aspects of your divorce, such as custody decisions and child/spousal support.

Here are eight tips for staying safe on social media during your divorce:

  1. What happens on social media… stays out there forever: on social media, cyberspace, and screenshots. You absolutely should delete any posts that could impact your case in any way, but understand that deleting them doesn’t make them go away. They can and will resurface.
  2. Tell your lawyer if you have, at any point, overshared on social media. Make sure your team knows what’s out there. Maybe you’ve left a cyber trail on social platforms by speaking ill of your ex, discussing your dispute, or posting photos with a date or new romantic partner. It’s also important to know that any photos/video of a sexual nature (even if made consensually) can create scandal, call your character and choices into question, and damage your image. Go ahead and Google yourself for a start. Run your name through various search engines to see what’s out there and what kind of digital footprint you’re dealing with.
  3. Change your passwords and check your privacy settings. Nothing you post on social media is truly private. Still, you can help yourself by familiarizing yourself with the privacy settings and filter options on the various apps and platforms and increasing security as much as possible. Use social media only on your own devices. For example, don’t post or browse at work; that network belongs to your employer, and your ex’s lawyer could subpoena records.
  4. Do not post:
    • Rants and vents. Never badmouth your ex on social media. Don’t make accusations or verbal threats, place blame, or spill the details of your disputes. Save the rant for your trusted friend, family member, therapist, or attorney.
    • Comments about your divorce process. Keep all the details of your split, as well as your feelings about it, off of social media.
    • Financial information. Refrain from posting a picture of your new car, luxury handbag, big house, or extravagant vacations. Also, don’t talk about your promotion, bonus, or salary increase. These clues to your financial state can impact child and spousal support arrangements and eligibility.
    • Depictions of your rock-n-roll lifestyle. Never post any images or videos of you partying with friends, drinking, using drugs/ illegal substances, or keeping company/doing things that might call your judgment into question.
    • Romantic life. You will eventually move on and start dating, seeking love, romance, intimacy, and companionship again. That’s healthy. However, keep that information and those photos (especially intimate ones) off social media. 
  5. Be careful with “friends” accounts, too. Politely ask your friends not to tag you in their posts—pictures of your social life can be misunderstood or misused. Be aware of others who may not have your best interests at heart or may be acting as informants for your ex. Remember that “friends” on social media are not always the same as Friends “IRL” (in real life).
  6. Leave the kids out of it. Especially if you are in a custody dispute, you must refrain from posting about your kids. Never say anything negative about your children on social media or complain about the demands of raising them. Even a “harmless” positive post about your child’s excellent report card or thrilling soccer goal can be considered an inappropriate overshare if you and your spouse disagree about social media boundaries. Also, remember that whether or not your child is using social media or sees your posts directly, things you post can get back to them through family, friends, or friends’ parents. Consider your children’s feelings and privacy at all times.
  7. Keep an eye on the kids’ accounts too. If your child is already using their own social media accounts, have a frank talk about what is and is not okay to post. Put reasonable and age-appropriate limits on their social media use. In court, parents are liable for the actions of minor children. But beyond that, your child’s posts can impact your custody case. For example, a child’s casual complaint about a parent’s rules or actions or an argument could be used in court to demonstrate that they would prefer to live with one parent over the other. If your kids’ social media interactions with their friends read as objectionable (foul language, etc.), an ex-spouse could use this information to imply that you’re not staying involved or letting your child hang with the wrong crowd on your watch.
  8. Best case scenario: stay off the socials for now. Altogether. Full stop. Stop in the name of safety and sanity. Consider deactivating your accounts. Our social media addiction is real, but during your divorce, posting almost anything could make you more vulnerable in court. And it’s not just posting that can be harmful. Remember that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Social media is full of people posting about their best moments and biggest brags; a lot of it is inflated or flat-out fake. Especially when you’re feeling down about your own situation, it won’t help to compare your real life to someone else’s Instagram version. Use the time you would have spent scrolling to do something healthy and happy for yourself. Read a good book, take a walk, call a real friend.

The skilled and caring family attorneys at SFLG can help you navigate all aspects of your divorce process, including assisting you through social media hurdles.

by Debra Schoenberg


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