Divorce and Social Media – Avoiding the Pitfalls
If you are going through a divorce – whether it is amicable or acrimonious – it is important to think carefully about the effects social media may have on your case.
This article does not seek to condemn parties if they do post about their spouse on social media. It is only natural to want to seek the support of friends and to feel heard and supported. Notwithstanding, social media can present a myriad of difficulties if you are going through a divorce, and it vital to be aware of the potential impact that social media could have on legal proceedings and on any children involved.
It is important to understand that ongoing court proceedings are subject to an implied undertaking of confidentiality. Breaching confidentiality by publishing discussions on social media will not only be frowned upon but it could also open the door to an injunction and a potential cost order, especially if your partner is well-known.
Avoid Disclosing Details you may not Want the Court to See
In addition, a very active social media profile could be used during court proceedings to demonstrate your spending and financial resources, cohabitation circumstances or even how your children are being cared for. Sharing aspects of your life, especially if it involves a new partner, can also derail negotiations and prolong proceedings.
Risk of Defamation
You are also at risk of being sued for defamation or becoming liable on the basis of reputational damage. If any of the posts are of a threatening or abusive nature, you could also be reported to the police.
Tips for Avoiding Social Media Pitfalls When Going Through a Divorce
As a family lawyer, my tips on navigating your online life if you are going through divorce or separation are the following:
- As difficult as it may be, avoid all social media (especially after a few drinks) and do not post about your spouse, divorce proceedings or the children online. Also try to discourage close friends and family members from posting about matters relating to your divorce.
- Keep your profile on private, change your password (in the event your spouse previously had access to your social media profile) and turn off any location tracking features on apps.
- Remove all devices from the shared home network so they do not sync with other devices which might be in your spouse’s possession.
- If you want to share pictures or post, be mindful of what you post. Remember even if your spouse is not on your social media, you are likely to have mutual friends who are.
- Do not discuss any ongoing court proceedings online – this could not only jeopardise your case, but you could be subject to injunction proceedings and cost orders.
- If you are in a new relationship, consider the effect it may have if you go public with your new partner. Not only could this be used as evidence against you, but it could also raise tensions and lead to protracted proceedings.
- Try to avoid using social media to spy on your ex-partner – this is for your own well-being as it will only seek to raise further questions and lead you to scrutinise your ex-partners movements. Instead, maybe go for a walk or grab a coffee with a friend or schedule some time with a trained counsellor who will be able to help you navigate the feelings you may be having.
- Consider the children. If children witness their parents’ disputes in public it can have a negative impact on their wellbeing in addition to damaging the parent-child relationship with one or both parents.
As family lawyers we understand the emotional toll separation and divorce takes on all parties. If you wish to have a confidential discussion about any of the issues addressed in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us.