Social Media and Divorce Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

Dos and Don’ts of Social Media During a Divorce

When going through a divorce, it is important to be careful about what you post and are tagged in on social media as these posts could be used against you in court. For example, pictures of you at a party with marijuana or alcohol on a night when you had custody of your children may be used by your ex-spouse in a custody hearing to argue that you are an unfit parent. Consequently, whether you want to unfollow or unfriend your ex-spouse is a personal decision. You may want to sit down with your ex-spouse and discuss if you are both going to unfollow or unfriend each other. However, if you do decide to still follow your ex-spouse on social media, you should be prepared for the possibility that you will see them with a new partner. You should not want to follow your ex-spouse for the purpose of spying on them, rather, you should follow them because you both have accepted the divorce and want to remain friendly. Regardless of whether you and your ex-spouse decide to unfollow or unfriend each other on social media, here are some dos and don’ts of how to use your social media accounts during a divorce.

Do:

Think before you post.

Before posting, think about whether what you are posting will portray you in a negative light. It is important that you do not post anything that could be harmful to your case. This could include posts about you or your ex. Specifically, you should not post about morally questionable topics such as substance abuse, gambling, intimate photos, or online dating. Posts that show off, boast, or brag about expensive purchases or trips, especially if you and your ex-spouse have not yet sorted out your financials, should be avoided. In addition, you should not make any negative posts about your ex-spouse, their family, or friends, or about your court proceedings and case. Your children may see these posts and find it upsetting that you are speaking negatively about their parent. Further, other family members or friends who are close to both of you may see these posts and feel as though they must take sides; this would be an unfair choice. Moreover, it is best to avoid any posts with a new partner until your divorce is final and you are in a good place with your ex-spouse.

Be cautious of who you are accepting on social media.

If the situation between you and your ex-spouse is not resolved and is particularly acrimonious, it is possible that new followers or friend requests may be your ex-spouse in disguise. Your ex-spouse may be trying to view your social media profiles to gather information about you that could be used to their advantage.

Change your passwords.

If your ex-spouse knows your passwords, you must ensure that they can no longer access your social media accounts and your email accounts. This is necessary for your own security to ensure that no one else has access to or control over your accounts.

Don’t:

Rely on privacy settings.

It is important that you are only sharing your posts with those on your friends list, not the public; this can be ensured by checking the privacy settings on the social media site you are using. However, under certain circumstances, a judge could create an order to review your social media accounts, despite any privacy settings you may have. Therefore, although you may think that you are only sharing something with friends, it is possible for your posts to be brought before a judge and your ex-spouse. Always remember that your ex-spouse may see anything and everything that you post.

Sign into your ex-spouse’s social media accounts.

If you know your ex-spouse’s passwords, do not sign into their accounts.

Allow yourself to be tagged in inappropriate posts or photos.

It is important to be aware of what you are tagged in as your ex-spouse may be able to see these posts, even if they cannot see your own posts. You can avoid this by changing your social media account settings to require your approval before you are tagged in something, or by simply untagging yourself.

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    Shazia Hafiji joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2016 and returned as an articling student in 2017. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in 2018, Shazia returned to the firm as an associate lawyer.

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