Disconnect Before Your Divorce: Why Staying Off Social Media Long Before Proceedings Begin May Be Best

Divorce, even when amicable, can be difficult to navigate. It sometimes seems like the slightest thing can turn an uncontested, calm breakup into a long-running court case. If you're contemplating divorce, or you think your spouse might be about to give you papers, dial back on your social media presence and be very careful about what you post. Avoid social media totally if you can. Your words, pictures, and relationships online could affect your case greatly.

Mistakes and Misunderstandings

One of the problems with social media is that anyone can post a picture or some text and say it's from a certain event or from a certain time. Unless people who see the photos or text take the time to verify the information surrounding it, that text or those photos can make you look irresponsible, or they can make it look like you have a certain personality. That could make you look bad in the eyes of a divorce judge who is trying to work out a settlement. Even if you can eventually prove that the photos or text were taken out of context, the resulting delay in ending proceedings can be unwelcome.


If your social-media self is friends with a lot of the same people with whom your spouse is friends -- which is not unusual -- a divorce will likely result in some of those friends siding with your spouse instead of you. Most of the time this is fairly open, and they'll unfriend you. Or, if they stay friends, they may reduce their interaction online with you greatly.

But some of the people who stay friends with you and who keep interacting with you might not be so friendly. This can take two forms: lying and spying. Someone who says he or she is still your friend during your divorce might actually be reporting what you say to your spouse, who could potentially use that information against you.

Or, your friend could be letting your soon-to-be ex log into the friend's account, where the spouse could then see what you were posting. The spouse could also pretend to be the friend and interact with you that way. The Daily Mail warned in 2012 that a Canadian graduate student's research showed that almost 90 percent of exes tried to look at their former partner's Facebook accounts, with some even signing into a friend's account to see past any privacy settings you might have. Technically, this is not allowed by most social media sites, and it could get your spouse and that friend banned. But the damage would be done, with more complications added to your divorce proceedings.

If you're headed toward divorce, even friendly divorce, talk to a divorce lawyer, such as Harold Salant Strassfield & Spielberg about how to avoid making a social-media mess of your case. He or she can help you identify the line between an update just to let people know what's happening in your life, for example, and an update that turns into badmouthing. You can find out how to keep a low enough profile so that you don't complicate your divorce proceedings unnecessarily.