5 Tips for Using Facebook Wisely During Your DivorceBy Bryan Stratton
Jun. 27, 2014 1:32p
Facebook has become a part of life for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, people struggling with divorce can feel isolated and lash out on this popular website before they have time to think about what they are saying or who may see it.
Using social media during a divorce can jeopardize a person’s chances of receiving a favorable judgement in court. In the 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 81 percent of family attorneys who responded saidthey had seen an increase in the use of social media as evidence in the previous five years.
Staying away from Facebook (and its ilk) is the best plan of action for soon-to-be-divorcees who want don’t want to be taken to the cleaners. However, many people just cannot keep themselves away from these harmful websites. Fortunately, there are a few things these people can do to alleviate some of the danger.
Don’t Badmouth Anyone
Although using Facebook to air your grievances seems tempting after getting frustrated with court proceedings or outraged over the former spouse’s demands. It’s completely natural to tap the cell phone screen and start grumbling about the spouse. Unfortunately, this is a case where one’s natural inclination will cause too much trouble. The best idea is to put down the phone and take a walk.
The problem is that courts routinely admit social media posts from Facebook, Twitter and other websites as evidence. The AAML says that Facebook alone has been linked to more than 66% of divorces in the US in the past 5 years. If you go online to vent about the unfairness of a particular custody arrangement or court decision, your ex and his or her lawyers could easily use that post to back up their arguments about anger problems, self-control issues or other “instabilities”. Even though the feelings expressed were totally justified, keeping them offline is a smart move. Why not call a friend or relative to let out these feelings instead of making them a matter of public record?
Never Trust Privacy Settings
Posting an angry status update is not the end of the world; life does not end after taking a selfie at the bar; but these things should never be sent to anyone, even as private messages. They’re still part of a digital record. A computer wiz with investigation skills could discover them with a little digging. Opponents in divorce cases love to hire these sorts of people to help win a more favorable settlement. People who are engaged in divorce cases need to be aware that their actions are under close scrutiny.
In addition, pictures and tweets from any social gathering can be used as evidence of alcohol abuse, negligence or improper behavior. Anything that could be misconstrued and spun in a negative light will be misconstrued and spun in a negative light. Anyone who follows tabloid media knows that anything can be spun any way that someone wants to do so. Keeping pictures private until after the divorce may be the easiest option to prevent worry and stress about having them misconstrued in a court of law.
Keep Quiet About New Relationships
Any divorce that drags on for an excessive amount of time can cause those involved to seek love in the arms of someone new. However, even this could be used in divorce or custody proceedings. Although most people want to tell the world when they think they are in love, those involved in a divorce battle must fight this urge. These relationships need to be kept private, which is hard to do if they are the people involved are using Facebook to connect with each other.
The marriage doesn’t end until the divorce has been finalized. Starting a new relationship before that time technically constitutes adultery in the eyes of the law. Even in a no-fault divorce, the court will not look kindly on someone who seems too eager to move on. A person involved in a divorce needs to avoid doing anything that could give their spouse any ammunition to use against them. Letting him or her paint them as unfaithful could be the bullet that provides the killshot.
Moving in with a new love interest can have other adverse effects upon the divorce, especially for those who have children. Courts have been known to prohibit either party from having new romantic partners around the kids. If one moves in with a new partner - or the court finds that they are getting financial support from him or her - it can be a huge blow to any chances they have of receiving substantial alimony or child support payments.
Ask Friends to Respect Needs
Those involved in contentious divorce battles must understand that these rules do not just apply to them. Even the most responsible social media user has friends who are more carefree and lackadaisical in their approaches to Facebook. These friends could snap unflattering pictures of the soon-to-be-divorcee at the bar, tag him or her on a night out and post messages or tweets that show them in a negative light without even giving it a second thought. Lawyers will use any of this information as quickly as they would use anything the person involved in the legal proceedings released themselves.
People need to be absolutely clear with those around them when they are going through a divorce. They should ask them nicely not to post any pictures of them or to post anything about or to them on the worldwide web. Maintaining a clean image in the eyes of the judge takes work, but it’s worth it.
Think About How Posts Reflect Finances
Even those who successfully maintain positive online reputations throughout their divorces need to be careful about what they show the world. Many people don’t consider how their social media postings can be used against them financially.
Say a man who’s had it with his marriage leaves the family home to rent an apartment and posts pictures of the new bachelor pad on Facebook. If it looks like a nice apartment, the spouse’s lawyer can use those pictures as evidence that that spouse has enough money and can support himself. If the judge agrees, he may decide to change the spousal support order, child support payments or division of property in the settlement.
Divorce puts everyone to the test. Having to live life under a microscope puts stress on people during their most trying emotional time. Any Oklahomans searching for advice on how to make it through this uncomfortable situation unscathed can find it by calling Oklahoma City family lawyer Bryan Stratton.