In the current digital culture, connectivity is a convenience. We live our lives online and carry around a device that provides entertainment and allows for instant communication. While this technology is beneficial for many, it can also make things more complicated – especially if you are in the process of divorce.
Many people are unaware that electronic data you would typically want to keep private (ex: social media posts, emails, text messages, etc.) can be discoverable in divorce litigation. That means that the opposing party’s legal team can ask you to produce any social media account activity, even if you have privacy settings in place or the online activity has been deleted. The legal team could also access your social media through your friends or family members’ accounts, if they are still connected to your ex online – whether that continued connection is intentional or not. Attorneys can then scrutinize all of that social media activity, looking for anything that could influence the divorce negotiations.
While the opposing party’s attorneys can legally request access to your social media activity, there are things you can do to protect yourself from informal access of your social media accounts. You can be proactive in preventing your ex, or friends of your ex, from snooping at your online activity. You can also enlist your friends and family in this process. Here are a few suggestions and ideas depending on your situation:
- Download any items you want to save from shared social media accounts.
- Un-sync any devices you shared with your ex, such as a phone, computer, or tablet.
- Change the passwords, security codes, and/or security questions on your digital devices and social media accounts. It is a good idea to change them to something your ex would not be able to easily guess.
- Block your ex, as well as his/her friends and family, from any social media accounts.
- Ask your friends and family to “unfriend” your ex on social media, and to not post anything related to the divorce and/or post photos that could be damaging in court.
- You may also consider the “take a break” option on Facebook, which allows you to temporarily unfriend someone. You can reinstate the online friendship once the divorce proceedings have ended.
- Refrain from posting anything about your ex or your divorce on social media.
This last item may be difficult for some. Divorce is an emotional and often stressful process, and social media is a common platform for venting frustrations. But remember this: anything you, your friends, or your family post on social media could potentially be read out loud in court. What started as a simple statement or image could ultimately influence your spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, or the division of your marital property. So instead of turning to Facebook or other social media platforms when you are upset, take the therapy session to the phone lines and call a friend or family member. Connect with your support group in person rather than on a space where your ex or his legal team could see your conversations. You can even implement a social media hiatus if necessary.
If you have additional questions about social media use during divorce, or if you need help with your family law case, contact Bliss Law Group at (253) 844-4412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.