You decided to file for divorce, or you just received divorce pleadings. What do you do next? While most people understand that the next decision should be to consult with an attorney, they forget the second step. That step is to take a vacation – from all social media accounts. Social media has become the telephone of today. We can share our joys, struggles, and sorrows quickly and with all of our “friends” at once. Because of this, the problem is that the filter on what to share and what to keep private is sometimes lost. So, when you receive or file papers filed with a courthouse, take the following steps.
First, log off all social media accounts at your work. I have heard stories of people being fired for posting personal information or opinions. The office computer is the last device you should be logging into your social media accounts. Not only can your employer download software to the computer to monitor everything you do on company time. But when you are logged into your social media accounts, the employer can review those accounts.
Second, log off all social media accounts on every device you logged in to. It is easy to “stay logged in,” but everything you do and say is subject to scrutiny. Please do not make it easy to post something because you are frustrated or angry.
Third, stop posting everything on social media. Many people do not realize that anything you post on social media is admissible in divorce court. You said or wrote it, and there is no hearsay exception to keep it out of court. This means if you left your account signed in on someone else’s device and they posted to your account as you, it is admissible, and you will have to prove that those words were not yours, which can be hard to do. If you posted something out of frustration, it can have a negative effect with the judge. Remember, what you post on the Internet is out there forever. If you have a new significant other, now is not the time to share it with the world.
Fourth, unfollow and block your spouse from your accounts. The fact that you received court pleadings shows a breakdown in your relationship. Their attorney will ask for screenshots of everything you post that is negative. Do not make it easy.
Fifth, do not accept any new friend requests. Your spouse or ex-spouse may have friends or family trying to “friend” you after you remove him from your friend list. The person may have created the account with a false name and photo. If you do not know the person or recall how you know them, do not accept. If a long-lost friend is trying to reconnect, think twice before hitting that accept button. It may be a good idea to wait a few weeks before accepting the request. A few weeks will not make a big difference if you have not talked in years.
Finally, do not delete the accounts or anything already posted. Deleting content or the account can be viewed negatively by the court as if you destroyed evidence. Just because you deleted it, it does not mean it is gone forever from the Internet. An experienced attorney will know which resources to pull back up. Screenshots capture posts and preserve them even after it has been deleted. If you feel a post may be damaging, share it with your attorney. This will give them a heads-up, and the attorney can start to plan what to do about it.
Schedule your pre-engagement meeting with us today if you have been served with divorce papers and are worried about your social media accounts. And visit our YouTube channel for more information on co-parenting, communication, and more.