Social Media is now a part of our everyday lives; on the one hand, it allows people to connect with each other across the world, provides a window into each other’s lives, and opens us up to new opportunities and challenges. On the other hand, however, it can become a festering cesspit of accusations, lies, half-truths and used as a platform on which to wage a war of reprisal against a former spouse or partner. Our tips on how to use – and not use – social media during a divorce or separation will help you divorce with dignity
1 – Do change your passwords. This is an important measure to take on all social media and email accounts for your own security. If the break-up has been less than amicable, then you need to make sure that your ex doesn’t have any access to your personal social media and email accounts. If you know your ex’s passwords, do not be tempted to use them to log into their accounts.
2 – Don’t spy on your ex. However tempting this might be, all it will do is cause you more pain and distress. You may wish to consider blocking him or her and any of their close friends – this will give you some space in your digital life and means that you can focus on you and your life without having posts from your ex pop up in your timeline.
3 – Don’t bad-mouth your ex. This applies particularly if you have children together – your relationship with each other may have ended, but your children’s relationship with their other parent hasn’t. Don’t post anything negative about your ex as your children may read it and find it hurtful. This also applies to other family members and close friends who love both of you; it would be unfair to force them to take sides.
4 – Don’t discuss court proceedings online. Doing so could potentially seriously damage your case, especially if you are found to be in breach of either s97 of The Children Act 1989, or Family Procedure Rules 12.73 and 12.75. At best, you may get a slap on the wrist. At worst, you could receive a custodial sentence for contempt of court. Parties involved in family court proceedings are expected to maintain confidentiality when it comes to their own case(s). If you are unsure of who you can discuss your case with, read the Ministry of Justice leaflet EX710.
5 – Do be wary of who you are accepting as new friends or followers, especially if the situation between you and your ex are acrimonious. A seemingly innocent new friend might be your ex in disguise, or one of their close friends or family – with the sole intent on spying on you and gathering any information that they may try to use to their advantage.
6 – Do check your privacy settings. Make sure that you are only sharing your digital content with those on your friends’ lists, not to the general public. Remember, you can set your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts so that only those you have accepted as friends or followers can see your content.
7 – Do realise that not everyone is interested in the minute details of your personal life, and don’t overshare personal Information. If you have to post about your divorce, then try to keep those posts short and to a minimum. Try to retain your composure and not get involved in spats or rows on social media; remember that with just one click of a button, your words about your very personal situation can be shared with many others – once shared it will be almost impossible to retract your words. If you do feel you have to respond to something you see on social media, remember not to use aggressive or abusive language; you can always write these down in your journal.
8 –Do think before you post. Do you really need to share your 3am thoughts on your ex? Will your post be perceived as unkind or thoughtless or show you in a bad light? If you need to vent your frustrations, then keep a private handwritten journal and write it down. This can be surprisingly cathartic.
9 – Be wary about going public with a new romance – if divorce proceedings haven’t yet started, this could mean you end up being sent a divorce petition citing your adultery. Photographs of you and your new partner together could be used as evidence of cohabitation and shared financial resources. If your ex sees the posts and is hurt by them, they could unknowingly channel that hurt into being difficult about the financial settlement and child arrangements.
10 – Do follow people and organisations that might help. Finding inspiration from others who have been through a divorce or separation can provide encouragement and show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Following organisations that support and advise separating or divorcing people can be a useful free resource for help and guidance.
Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with a family law adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.