Social media use has grown significantly throughout the past two decades, changing nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Despite the various benefits that social media brings, it also has a high potential for adversely impacting emotions, relationships, and family dynamics. These negative repercussions are often highlighted when spouses use social media to communicate with their ex-partners, air grievances, and expose conflicts. However, social media can also provide powerful evidence—both for or against you—during divorce proceedings.
Can I use social media during my divorce? Barring a court order, you are technically free to use social media during a divorce. But just because you can, does not mean you should. So the question really isn’t if you can use social media during your divorce in Colorado. The question really is, Should you use it?
If you do post anything, you need to use discretion. Avoid engaging in or posting photos of conduct that could compromise the outcome of your divorce. Understanding the impact, usefulness, and detriment of social media before, during, and after a divorce is crucial to protecting your rights and interests.
The Role of Social Media in Colorado Divorce Cases
Social media use raises concerns for divorcing spouses and their attorneys. As social media continues to become ingrained in the fabric of society, the greater the possibility that it could be at the center of familial disputes and divorces. Social media mistakes can lead to divorce, escalate disputes, serve as evidence, and cause ongoing family problems. Individuals should speak with an attorney to learn how to handle social media and electronic communications in anticipation of a divorce, during divorce proceedings, and after a final divorce order.
The Impact of Social Media on Divorce
A growing library of literature focuses on social media and its impact on society, specifically social networking and behavior. While many successful marriages have come through social networking, studies indicate that social network sites negatively impact marriage quality and happiness. Further, anecdotal evidence suggests that certain social networking sites may be responsible for causing one out of five divorces in the nation.
There are many reasons why social media might negatively affect long-term relationships and lead to separation and divorce. Some of these reasons include the following:
- Excessive social media use can create dependency leading to psychological, social, and financial difficulties;
- Social media can create an environment that evokes jealousy and causes harm to couples; and
- Social media provides individuals with the opportunity to engage in extramarital affairs.
In addition to serving as a catalyst for many divorces, social media can have rippling effects during divorce proceedings.
What to Do with Social Media During a Divorce?
Deactivating or limiting your accounts during a divorce is the most prudent option. Why? Because the average person who has never been on a witness stand in court cannot really grasp how seemingly innocent posts can wreak havoc with your case. For instance, posting a bunch of photos of yourself out partying with your friends might seem innocent enough. But if your spouse is trying to paint you as an alcoholic or drug abuser to limit your time with your kids—this can hurt you during your divorce. Postings about vacations, excessive spending, financial successes, or even your lifestyle, could be used against you when litigating financial matters.
Therefore, staying completely off social media for the duration of your case is the safest option, as it will help you to refrain from posting anything that can be harmful or used against you. However, if that option is not possible, let’s look at some other steps you can take:
- Change social media passwords,
- Privatize accounts so your soon-to-be ex-spouse and their friends and family cannot see your page,
- Refrain from posting anything that can hurt a loved one,
- Refrain from posting anything that would bolster your spouse’s accusations or would seem to refute any of your claims,
- Refrain from posting anything related to finances, and
- Prioritize safety by disabling location trackers.
In addition, individuals going through a divorce should ask their friends and family to refrain from posting anything that might jeopardize their case.
Social Media Use After Divorce
The risk of using social media after divorce tends to be more significant when the parties are experiencing highly-charged emotions because of ongoing issues. Usually, such issues are related to child custody. Posts on social media can be used to substantiate claims for post-divorce child custody modifications. So even after your divorce, if you share child custody with your ex, be very careful about what you post. Never go out of your way to be vindictive or post anything that you hope will hurt your ex. In fact, it is best not to be friends with a contentious ex or their friends or family on social media. Keep your account as private as possible.
Also, if you are involved in personal and emotional family matters, you likely find comfort in reaching out to others via social media. While communicating online can promote growth and healing, it is essential to refrain from acting on your emotions or saying anything inflammatory while using social media.
Do You Have Questions About the Role of Social Media in a Divorce?
If you are considering filing for divorce or have recently learned that your spouse initiated divorce proceedings, it is crucial that you carefully consider what you do with your social media accounts. At the Colorado divorce law firm of Plog & Stein P.C., we have more than two decades of hands-on experience guiding clients through the challenging process of divorce. We understand the increasing role that social media plays in the process and can effectively advise you about how to continue using social media in a manner that won’t jeopardize the outcome you’re hoping to accomplish. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, give Plog & Stein P.C. a call today. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.