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How social media can become problematic for divorcing spouses

Thanks to advancements in technology, access to social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter has become as simple as making just a few keystrokes on a tablet computer or swipes on a smartphone screen. In fact, access to these online platforms is no longer confined to just the young or the computer savvy, as people of all ages are now keeping up with the world around them via social media.

Interestingly, many family law attorneys have indicated that social media can potentially create legal problems in divorce proceedings.

"People have the inclination to do things rather impulsively [on social media], without giving a whole lot of sober reflection," said one attorney.

How exactly can divorcing spouses get themselves into trouble via social media?

According to experts, divorcing spouses face the following social media pitfalls:

  • Failing to properly monitor their privacy settings: While a divorcing spouse may make a concerted effort to "de-friend" or cut off social media access to their ex, they may neglect to take the same steps concerning friends of the ex. Consequently, these friends may still be able to keep the ex apprised of all that is being posted.
  • Posting immediate reactions to events: Many people are accustomed to posting their immediate reactions to everything on social media. While this typically presents no problems for most people, it can prove problematic for a divorcing spouse. For example, an angry tweet about a court ruling could very easily find its way back to the presiding judge.
  • Compromising attorney-client privilege: Disclosing too much information during a divorce is never a good idea, but disclosing information about communications with an attorney (i.e., "My lawyer said ...") could potentially be construed as waving attorney-client privilege.
  • Posting questionable pictures: Many people feel compelled to share photographs on social media as a way to show what they've been up to. However, photos that seem innocuous (i.e. raising a glass of beer to toast a friend) could potentially be used as evidence at trial (i.e., the divorcing spouse has a substance abuse problem).

It's for these reasons that many family law attorneys recommend that their clients simply stop using social media altogether during the course of a divorce. While this may seem like overly conservative advice, it may not be too far off base considering all that could potentially go wrong.

What are your thoughts on social media and divorce?

If you would like to learn more about divorce or divorce-related issues here in Minnesota, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and enforce your rights.

Source: WTOP, "Navigating social media during a divorce," Neal Augenstein, September 9, 2013

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