Social media has become part of the fabric of our lives. Rather than being a simple form of distraction, social media is now a way to communicate with friends and family, share our lives, and find interesting content to while away the hours. However, depending on how you use your social media accounts, you can actually hurt your divorce case in ways you may not otherwise foresee. We explore five of the ways social media use has hurt other people as they pursued their divorces. You can learn from their mistakes.
Posting Images of Drinking or Drug Use
Sure, marijuana use is legal in the District of Columbia (with certain limitations, of course). However, posting a picture of yourself and your friends smoking marijuana is probably a bad idea. Maryland has not yet legalized recreational marijuana use. Additionally, it is probably not a good idea to post pictures of yourself drinking. Even consuming a single glass of wine may provide your spouse with ammunition to argue you are irresponsible as a parent, or you lack good judgment – particularly if you were drinking while you had custody of the children.
It may seem an extreme position to take. After all, what’s the harm in a single glass of wine? While this may be a fair point, how will you prove it was a single glass of wine? Even if you can, is it really worth the headache (not to mention the legal fees) to have to prove you are a responsible drinker? The best course is to refrain from posting pictures of you engaging in an activity your spouse may find useful in a case against you where they are arguing they should have physical or legal custody of the children.
Speaking About the Situation
Loose lips sink ships, as they say. Going on a rant about your partner, their lawyer, or the process may feel good, but memorializing this rant on social media does not serve you. If you must write it down, do so in a private journal, not on social media platforms. Topics that should be considered particularly off limits include:
- Money issues
- Disputes about child custody
- Criticism of parenting time choices
- Personal issues between the two of you.
Telling the world about your spouse’s impotence, of their mounting gambling debts, may effectively embarrass or hurt them. But it does not serve you. While these issues may be properly before the court, they are not issues that should be litigated in the court of public opinion. Let your lawyer determine what legal impact any personal situation may have on the divorce proceedings. Keep your comments to yourself.
It may be tempting to use social media features to “check in” at the hottest new restaurant or announce you are stranded at the airport in Atlanta, having missed your connection to Bermuda. However, documenting your adventures could create a trail of speculation about your finances. Maybe your friend offered to buy you dinner. Perhaps you won the trip to Bermuda by beating your sales goals for the quarter. It is unlikely you are posting your financial arrangements on social media. However, your spouse may use that information to speculate you don’t actually need alimony, or you have hidden assets. In the grand scheme of things, there is no need to document money you spend or experiences you have on social media during your divorce. There will be plenty of time for that after you divorce is finalized.
Seeking Legal Advice from Friends and Family
There are a host of television shows and movies that deal with divorce and family law. They are written by people who do not actually practice family law, however. The facts and “laws” that make for a good 30 or 60 minute television program are not necessarily consistent with actual laws on the books in the state of Maryland. It can be tempting, particularly if you don’t like some advice you have recently heard from your lawyer, to take to social media, looking for other answers more consistent with what you want to hear.
This is a problem for three reasons. First, you hired your family law attorney to represent your interests and fully advise you on the law, given the facts in your case. If you don’t trust their advice, ask more questions or consider getting a new attorney. If you just don’t like their advice, consider examining why this is. The second problem is, when you go to social media, you detail your area of concern quite clearly for your spouse and their lawyer. Why would you provide that information to them? Finally, even if your family or friends experienced a similar issue, it is unlikely the facts were the same in their case as in yours. As such, the result they achieved may or may not be achievable for you.
Posting Anything You Don’t Want the Judge to See
You should presume someone is watching you at all times. While it may amuse you to take quizzes to see what movie star you should have sex with, or post memes critical of the current administration (regardless of who is in the current administration), consider whether or not you want the judge in your case to see your posts. While many couples can focus on the issues at hand, such as dividing assets and debts, and coming to an understanding about the division of parenting times, some people just can help but focus on putting their spouse’s character on trial. Consider carefully any post before putting it up. It could come back to haunt you.
Are You Considering Divorce?
If you are considering divorce, contact Fait & DiLima to schedule a consultation. We work to help families divorce in a way that is respectful, kind, and productive for your family. We offer mediation, collaborative divorce, and traditional negotiation, as well as litigation, where necessary. We look forward to working with you. Call today at (301) 888-6384.