Social media permeates nearly every facet of our lives today. But when nuanced family transitions arise, your online presence can easily complicate proceedings if you’re not thinking strategically.
During emotional and stressful times, it’s critical to approach social media mindfully to avoid undermining your case. While the desire to share, vent, and ask for advice is understandable, you also need to maintain your privacy and integrity as you navigate through separation and divorce.
We want to empower you with the knowledge needed to guard your interests in this massively online age. Let’s explore how your social media activity factors into divorce, what the court might scrutinize, and smart practices for protecting yourself during this difficult time.
Your Digital Trail
Social media platforms have seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, providing an outlet for self-expression, human connection, and, inadvertently, a crystal-clear portrait of our personal affairs.
It’s become much more common for spouses to gather and introduce social media evidence in court during a divorce. According to a study by the Loyola University Health System, Facebook is cited in one out of every five divorces in the United States.
Online activity that reveals dishonesty, hidden assets, inappropriate conduct, drug or alcohol abuse, or otherwise questionable parenting can all influence the court’s determinations on:
- Asset division and spousal maintenance amounts
- Parental responsibility and guardianship arrangements
- Visitation rights
Flaunting infidelity or bragging about excessive spending, creating an unsafe environment for your children, and other behaviors exposed through social media postings may negatively impact the divorce outcome you desire.
Status updates, messages, photos, and other online interactions are permanent, discoverable records that courts can request to be submitted as evidence in proceedings. Even old posts you may have forgotten about remain visible and can resurface, and virtually anything you may have posted has potential implications.
Many family law attorneys advise clients to disconnect from these platforms completely during the divorce journey and focus instead on self-care, building support systems, and ensuring your health and well-being.
Angry rants, explicit comments, or even seemingly innocent posts can be misconstrued and used against a party in court. Avoid posting sensitive information, abstain from making negative comments about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and steer clear of any behavior that could be perceived as irresponsible or detrimental.
By maintaining a circumspect online presence, you can protect your interests and avoid inadvertently damaging your case. The best preparation is establishing smart social media strategies to protect yourself through the divorce process, such as:
- Deleting or archiving old posts and photos with sensitive content or that could be misconstrued.
- Tightening privacy settings so only pre-approved connections see your activity.
- Halting the usage of certain platforms like dating apps until your divorce is final.
- Being mindful of venting your frustration online, which may be used against you later.
- Refraining from disparaging your ex or commenting on the proceedings.
- Document everything — and be completely honest with your attorney.
If questionable online activity exists, don’t make matters worse by lying. This only damages your credibility once the truth surfaces. Owning up to your mistakes gives your lawyer the best opportunity to contextualize conduct and argue it as an outlier. Good faith shows maturity, which can influence outcomes favorably.
The goal is to maintain a squeaky-clean online persona, revealing nothing that could undermine objectives like custody or financial interests. The more content you remove from the public realm, the less opportunity for misinterpretation or weaponization. Take preventative action early and remember that caution is key.
Preparing for a Bright Future
Before sharing anything on social media, consider its potential effect on your divorce case. If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and refrain from posting altogether, if only for a few months.
Always seek guidance from an experienced family law advocate, as the importance of presenting an accurate and transparent online persona that aligns with your claims can’t be understated.
In the digital age, where information is power, careless social media use can become a legal nightmare for those navigating divorce proceedings in the state of Illinois. Understanding the impact of your online activity can help you reach your goals and ensure you can move forward to the next exciting stage of your life.
At the Law Offices of J. Jeltes, we know that going through a divorce is difficult enough without ancient online history or communications you thought private coming back to haunt you.
Our skilled and compassionate attorneys excel at helping clients navigate this complex process judiciously and discretely. Please reach out today to discuss evaluating and managing your digital footprint proactively.