You probably can't imagine yourself without your phone in your hand, Facebook open on your computer, and Instagram and Twitter sending you notifications. In fact, you may not realize how many times a day you change your status and wait for your hundreds of friends to approve or disapprove. What you may not know is that others may be watching your social media, and, if you are heading toward a divorce, this could mean trouble.
The proliferation of social media has changed the way people divorce. Your soon-to-be-ex spouse may already be lurking on your sites, checking your browser history and compiling evidence to use against you.
What are lurkers looking for?
It may feel like an invasion of privacy, but your social media – in fact any electronic data – may become part of discovery as your divorce progresses. Your spouse's legal team is likely watching your posts and tweets. They may also subpoena your emails and text messages in an attempt to learn if you are keeping secrets. They are probably looking for the following:
- Money: If you post about your vacation, new car or latest purchase, this may impact a judge's decision regarding alimony or child support.
- Employment: Your emails may reveal that you received a raise, bonus or job offer, which may also affect support rulings as well as property division.
- Infidelity: Registering or posting on dating websites during divorce proceedings may have negative consequences for you.
- Misbehavior: Posting about wild parties or illegal activity may not work in your favor during child custody rulings.
It is true that everything you do on social media, even the most innocent posts, has the potential for misinterpretation leading to devastating consequences. In fact, even if you only use social media to play free games, the court may question your ability to parent the children when you spend so much time playing games online.
Deleting potentially incriminating posts or photos is not recommended once you or your spouse have officially begun the divorce process. The court may consider this destroying evidence, and that may lead to penalties.
However, many Tennessee divorce counselors suggest steering clear of social media as much as possible until the divorce is complete. This may be difficult since social media is so much a part of daily life for many people, but it may be in your best interests to stay off the electronic grid for a while. Additionally, heeding the advice of your attorney in this and other matters may help you avoid adding more stress to an already stressful situation.