5 Reasons to Quit Social Media During a Break-Up
Getting divorced can be a traumatic experience for both parties involved. Details often come out in court that couples hoped would stay secret forever. And when those same details are openly shared on Facebook and other social media sites, it makes matters a whole lot worse.
In many cases, couples find that their divorce will be a public affair due to social media, even if they’re not a public figure, according to Robbin Itkin, an attorney at Steptoe & Johnson, LLC.
Esther Gonzalez Freeman, a life coach who blogs about her personal experiences at www.mybalancedplate.com, said that she had an amicable divorce but that family and friends seemed to struggle with it — and social media only increased the tension.
After separating, “we decided to stay connected on social media, but eventually we had to disconnect,” Gonzalez Freeman recalls. “When we changed our relationship status online, it sent a message to everyone’s newsfeed. Family and friends didn’t quite understand how to manage the news on a public site.”
Unfortunately, there isn’t a guide for social media divorce etiquette. In Gonzalez Freeman’s case, people felt like they needed to take sides and eventually they both had to let go of some of their connections. “We didn’t realize the impact social media would have on how our family and friends handled our divorce. It’s odd to say that it may have affected them more than it did us directly!”
Aside from its effect on family and friends, social media can also impact a couple’s divorce while going through proceedings, warns Michelle Lee Flores, an attorney and partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP in the Los Angeles. She advises couples who use social media to be wary about what they’re posting and to keep these five things in mind:
1. Pictures don’t lie—but spouses do!
Instagram can provide the often missing plain—but revealing—evidence of extra-marital affairs, says Flores. Also, “photos of excessive use of alcohol or drugs, or compromising positions of a sexual nature can be used against a spouse in a custody battle to illustrate the spouse is ‘unfit.’”
2. It can be time consuming.
Matt, a recent divorcee and father of young two boys, noticed his ex-wife was spending a lot of time posting on Facebook and complaining about custody decisions while they were in the process of getting divorced. “It was not only embarrassing and upsetting, but I began to wonder whether she was paying much attention to my children while she had them in her care,” he said.
Screen shots of these types of postings can be used as evidence. “The data computation of social activities can become evidence between divorcing spouses as time spent online is time spent away from one’s family, which can be argued as one’s lack of commitment to children,” explains Flores.
3. Lies ultimately get exposed.
Even when divorcing couples are cautious about what they post online, friends aren’t always so thoughtful. “Soon-to-be ex-spouses can be ‘outed’ by other friends’ postings or ‘check-ins’ that show they’re not where or with whom they said,” says Flores. “This can be used as evidence that proves helpful in a divorce proceeding, including evidence to challenge one’s credibility.”
4. The ‘other woman or man’ is just a click away.
Social media makes it difficult to keep affairs a secret. “Facebook’s instant location of and ability to contact the family, spouse, or even friends of the unknowing spouse or the ‘other woman or other man’ makes it much harder to hide an affair — even once it has ended,” says Flores.
5. Social media posts live forever!
Once you post something, you might as well consider it written in stone. “Rants or heated exchanges posted on social media, even if eventually taken down, can support requested court orders to restrain interaction or behavior between soon-to-be ex-spouses and possibly new romantic partners,” says Flores.
For all of these reasons, social media certainly can cause your divorce to be more costly. “You may need to spend funds on experts or evidence to counter the information available on social media,” adds Itkin.
Hopefully knowing both the emotional financial impact social media can have on a divorce, it will encourage couples to be more cautious in their actions “and avoid the social media land mines that could contribute to divorces in the first place.”
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