Social media and separation: avoiding the pitfalls

There’s no escaping the fact that social media has become a huge part of our lives. From posting cute pictures of our dogs to joining in online debates about the issues of the day, pretty much everyone engages with it at some level. As of the third quarter of 2018, Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users, while Twitter is predicted to attract 275 monthly users worldwide sometime this year.

As audiences soar into the billions then, how do we handle our social media presence while going through a separation or divorce? While social media can provide valuable emotional support, it can also be extremely detrimental if used in the wrong way. Here is some advice to help you manage your online presence during a relationship breakdown.

Put down the phone

If possible, calling a halt to social media interaction during a relationship break-up is a wise step to take. Posting overly emotional content, or using your online channels to criticise other parties involved in the break up can backfire on you. Solicitors can often use social media content to build up a profile of the relationship and even to unearth evidence to be used during divorce proceedings. Remember, discretion is the better part of valour. Keep your head high and your personal business off the internet.

Think carefully

If you do decide to carry on posting on social media, take great care about what you say. Never disparage your partner or anyone else involved in your case, as this could be turned against you. Monitor what your friends and family say too, especially if children are involved. Think about how you would feel if they read anything unpleasant about their other parent and became distressed by it. Never post anything illegal, immoral or libellous in connection to your case (that’s a good rule of thumb in general). Don’t gloat or speculate about the outcome of a divorce ruling or children’s custody hearing. Avoid talking about questionable issues such as pornography or gambling too, as this could help the opposing side paint your character in a disparaging light.

Up your privacy

Make sure all of your privacy settings are on the highest possible level. This protects you from having your social media content unwittingly shared, for example by any newspapers following the case, or anything being passed around amongst people you don’t want knowing your business. Always assume that anything you write online can be copied, pasted and read by someone else, even if you think it is a completely private message. If you have any serious worries or concerns, discuss them with a specialist family law solicitor face to face, rather than posting the details online.

Be responsible

Finally, treat social media with respect and always think about the impact a Facebook post, Instagram photo or Tweet could have on your wider circle of friends and family. Keep an eye on any social media outlets your children might be using to check they aren’t accessing anything inappropriate or being subjected to bullying, emotional pressure or coercion. Never use social media at work and never, ever engage in revenge tactics, posting intimate or reputation-damaging photos or details about your partner or their family. Such activity could cost you more than your integrity during a divorce case – it could also cost you your job and even lead to a criminal record. Put simply, if you are at all unsure about uploading something to a social media account, don’t do it. Speak to a solicitor instead.

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