Technology has become such an integral part of modern life that most of us don't give a second thought to updating a Facebook status, posting a Tumblr picture or firing off a quick text. In many contexts, our "plugged in" lifestyle is harmless and can be a good way to stay connected and rapidly share information.
However, in one context, excessive and unwise use of social media and other electronic forms of communication can have costly consequences. If you are going through a divorce or if you even suspect that your marriage may be nearing its end, posting, tweeting and messaging should be done cautiously, if at all.
Social media being used in more divorces; you need to protect yourself
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is a trade group of approximately 1,600 family law practitioners with members in all 50 states. A recent survey of AAML members was indicative of the increasingly instrumental role social media is playing in modern divorces. Reportedly, 81 percent of AAML members said that they have seen a rise in the number of divorce cases that involve social media over the past five years; two-thirds of the lawyers surveyed said Facebook was the primary website for mining divorce evidence.
The growing importance of social media and other forms of electronic communication is no surprise to anyone. But many individuals fail to recognize just how damaging an errant post can be in a divorce.
Whatever your security settings on any online profiles, you should assume that anything you put forth is essentially public. While it may feel good to rant about your ex on your Facebook wall or to post pictures of yourself enjoying your newfound freedom, you have to ask yourself what a judge would think of your social media presence. When a family law court makes decisions about child custody and visitation, spousal support and other matters, anything that makes you look irresponsible could be used against you.
So what can you do? Cranking up your security settings and watching who your online "friends" are important measures — it is a good idea to limit the online content that is readily accessible to your ex. But this alone is not enough.
If you're angry, instead of typing out a text, sending an email or making a post in the heat of the moment, write your feelings out on paper. Then, when things have calmed down, throw the paper away. If you have pictures of wild times that you simply need to share, keep them offline — wait for an in-person meeting of friends. And avoid social media posts that include location, as they can be used to make it seem like you were somewhere you "weren't supposed to be."
Get more information from a family law attorney
Divorce is a difficult process, and it can be tempting to use the multitude of electronic outlets that are literally at your fingertips to express yourself. Yet, while it may be cathartic to turn to social media, before doing so, ask yourself if it's worth it if it costs you custody of your kids or impacts the amount of your spousal support payment.
If your marriage is ending, you family law attorney can provide additional insight into how social media may play into your case. Talk to a divorce lawyer today to learn more and to begin building your case.