Going through a divorce can feel scary, stressful, emotional, and exhausting. Many people feel they can benefit from dependable, compassionate, thoughtful sources of emotional support during the divorce, meaning they turn to social media for comfort. These 24/7 platforms are “always on,” and can soothe a divorcing person’s anxiety by helping them feel heard, validated and less lonely. But while social media can be a good coping strategy, social media and divorce don’t always mix well. What I mean by that is, people can mistakenly use Facebook and other social media channels in ways that can negatively impact the outcome of their divorce.
When it comes to social media and divorce, divorcing partners should exercise restraint with respect to what, if anything, they publish on social media. Many people going through a divorce look to social media as a means of emotional connection, sharing in experiences, as a virtual confessional of sorts, or a way to gather information. This can be very problematic.
As a divorce attorney, I always strive to counsel my clients through divorce with a goal of minimum emotional and legal conflict. Certain social media posts by those going through a divorce can inevitably increases the presence of conflict and can hurt the person both in court and out of court (meaning social media can fuel anger and resentment with a soon-to-be ex spouse.)
Here are six tips for social media and divorce:
1. Published content on social channels is discoverable. By this I mean that anything you publish on a social channel can be reviewed and considered in a court of law during a divorce. Think twice about commenting on your soon-to-be ex’s new social life, drinking habits, personal interests and more. Give thought to what you share about your own evolving social life, feelings toward your soon-to-be ex, fears for the future and more. Of course, these feelings and opinions are all ok to have, but publishing them on a social channel may create conflict and complications during your divorce proceedings.
2. Carefully consider what you publish about your partner. Avoid posting critical, negative, or emotionally charged content about your partner on Facebook or other social media channels. While you might be hurting, angry and/or emotional, and you might find comfort in seeing your friends and connections offer you supportive comments, you are risking driving your divorce proceedings into a highly conflicted zone when you publish any strong opinions about your spouse.
3. Leave children completely out of the content. Privacy is essential during a divorce especially for minor children. Children deserve tremendous emotional support from you during a divorce. Sharing content about them on social channels violates their privacy, even content that you find appealing or positive. We really don’t know yet, since social channels are so new in our society, just how long the content that’s published will be searchable. Assume content will live forever and spare your children the burden of trying to understand why you published what you published about them during your divorce.
4. Avoid expressing “lightning rod” opinions that might color people’s opinion of your judgement or emotional wellbeing. This is probably good advice for all people, not just divorcing people. Publishing strong opinions, political views, religious perspectives and more can be very problematic. While you might feel strongly about an extreme opinion, these points of view, when made public can be used against you. I counsel my clients to avoid over-sharing opinions about anything that could cause even greater conflict. Freedom of speech is very important and meaningful, don’t get me wrong. That said, talking about things is OK, just don’t put them in writing on social media channels.
5. Never publish anything to your social channels when you are highly emotional, during a disagreement with your spouse, when you have had drinks or used any mood-altering substances or at unusual hours of the day or night. These are all moments in your life when you may feel very strong emotions, but these are not moments when you should declare them publicly on a social channel. Anything you publish could be saved as a screen shot and used against you. Instead, wait till the next morning and call your attorney. In the meantime, to stay sane, journal your thoughts. Write down everything you want to post, but keep it to yourself. You will feel validated and the next morning, you might decide there’s no need to do anything.
6. People use the internet to research every step of the way during a divorce. While reading about approaches online can be helpful, I’d like to caution people and suggest that speaking with an attorney is the best way to ensure you are getting advice that is best suited to your circumstance. While it is common to read background information online and on social channels, it is important for people to know there is no substitute for helpful, focused counsel. It’s easy to read information online and assume it is completely accurate and often it is not.
In closing, I recognize that we are living at a time when social media is very much present in our daily lives. And, social media can offer helpful ways to keep in touch, learn news, be entertained, and stay connected. These are the positives of social media. That said, my goal as a divorce attorney is to protect my clients from needless or avoidable conflict, and to get them the best outcome in divorce, both financially and from a lifestyle perspective. That’s why the combination of social media and divorce can be dangerous.
I will leave you with one final “rule” for social media and divorce. I’m not saying you should delete your social media accounts, but when posting ANYTHING on any social media channel, ask yourself this question: “If my ex’s attorney or a judge saw this, would it hurt my case?” If the answer is even remotely yes, then refrain from posting it. Instead, talk to a therapist, a close friend or a family member for support. Social media is like broadcasting your life to the world. While that might be OK in some circumstances, it isn’t OK during divorce.
Anna P. Krolikowska, an attorney in the Northbrook law firm of Anna P. Krolikowska P.C, focuses her practice in the area of family law. Anna realizes that importance and the impact family law matters have not only on her clients, but also on their families. From divorce and child custody to any judgment modifications, Anna considers the unique circumstances of each case to develop a course of action designed specifically to address each client’s unique needs.
As a litigator, trained mediator, and a collaborative professional, Anna is able to offer to her clients diverse, and creative approaches to resolving marital disputes.
Anna realizes that family law matters are very difficult for all individuals involved. She strives to treat each client with respect at all times and to provide each client with attention and time they require. She works diligently to maintain open lines of communication, and provide creative options to resolving her clients’ concerns.
In addition to her practice, Anna is President-Elect of the Illinois State Bar Association which oversees the operations and management of ISBA, a state-wide voluntary association of more than 30,000 attorneys who strive to educate and serve the public, and improve the practice of law. She is a 2019 Honoree of the “40 Under Forty” award. The award honors 40 attorneys each year. In June 2021 she became the President of the ISBA, making her the 5th female president since its founding in 1877.
To learn more about Anna and her services, visit her website, or call: (847) 715-9328