During the stressful time of separation and Divorce, the use of Social Media should be exercised with caution and careful consideration as Joanne Wilbraham, Solicitor in our family team explains.
With social media now being a part of day to day life, it is usually the first place that people go to in order to share news about any major life events. It can also be the first place people turn to when things get difficult or to express an opinion about something or someone who has upset them.
Although you may be very hurt and angry, social media is not the place to voice your opinion about your ex. No matter how secure your social media is, it is not the same as having a private discussion with a few close friends. Once a comment has been posted it is out there for the world to see, screenshot, share and print. It could even be passed to your children.
Posting negative comments can have a whole range of effects. Undoubtedly, it will cause tensions to rise. This may lead to communication difficulties and bad feeling and, in many cases, this then “snowballs” into the discussions surrounding the divorce, division of money and arrangements for the children.
You may not be on good terms with your ex, but you do need to be prepared to be reasonable and have some cooperation if you are going to get matters concluded without allowing the costs and timescales to escalate.
Also, give consideration to any comments that your friends may make. However well-meaning, they can also have the effect of inflaming the situation unnecessarily so it is better to ask your friends not to post any comments about your ex.
You may think that you have complete freedom to make whatever comments you wish, but posting on social media places your views in the public domain. With the increased use of social media by businesses, comments to a personal profile or business pages could have a far-reaching impact, damaging your ex’s reputation, or affecting their business. The consequence could be that you find yourself within costly proceedings for libel and at risk of having to pay significant damages. Even if Court action is not pursued, if there is a negative impact on your ex’s business, this will undoubtedly reduce their income and in turn, will have a negative impact on you when it comes to the division of the matrimonial finances.
Until everything has been resolved, think carefully about any information that you are posting, even if it is not directed at your ex. Posts about holidays or new purchases may cause the other person to feel that you might be dissipating assets and it may impact on their willingness to pay maintenance or make contributions towards the house.
If you have children then it is a good idea to try and reach an agreement about what you will and will not post about them. Some parents are happy to post photos of their children, whilst others prefer for these photos not to be in the public domain. If you and your ex have different views on the matter then try to agree on some boundaries.
Despite the need to exercise caution, social media can have its uses during separation. It can be used in a positive way to communicate quickly and effectively or to share photos of the children with your ex via private messaging. This may assist if talking directly is difficult at this time.
Overall, the most important thing is to remember that whatever use you do make of social media, there will be a record of it somewhere and more than likely with your ex. Think before posting and if in doubt then stay away from social media during your separation.