Social media posts put online by their clients’ ex-partners are increasing the costs and conflict involved in family law cases.
Divorce lawyers across the country are seeing more clients asking about their ex-partner’s social media activity. Clients frequently want their ex-partner to stop, withdraw or change what they put online.
Ringbinders of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram screenshots are sometimes delivered to lawyers to prove a point against the other partner.
People also need to be very careful that they are not found guilty of “Trolling” or harassing their partners through the use of Youtube, Facebook and other similar sites. In some cases it will be possible to apply to the court for injunctions to stop the other person from doing so or to make a complaint of harassment to the police.
Usually, however, the only impact of social media use online is to make an already difficult situation worse and more expensive. As a word of caution, I have never seen the use of social media make a divorce better.
Five tips for using social media in divorce
- Don’t post. Try to hold off social media usage at this sensitive time in order to avoid misunderstanding or increasing conflict. Use private direct communication instead such as the telephone, email or, why not go old school and try writing correspondence.
- Don’t go looking. Try to resist the temptation to review your ex’s social media accounts. Assume that no good will come of it. If you go looking then expect to be offended. Remember, you are not the intended audience. People post for their supporters, not for you. If they have posted for you then it is very likely that they will have posted in order to cause you offence.
- Don’t rise to the bait. Remember, if the other person is trying to offend you and you get offended then you are letting them influence how you feel and behave. Do not get drawn into online fights.
- If you choose to use social media then at least refrain from doing so when feeling either angry, tired, emotional or drunk and especially when feeling all four.
- Do not, under any circumstances film your partner or post film of your partner on Youtube, Facebook or other sites. Try to resist showing videos of any children of the family as well.
Your social media postings could be put forward as evidence of your attitude towards your ex-partner.
You could be asked about this in front of a Judge if your case goes to a final hearing about the divorce financial claims or children arrangements.
You could also reveal information that will work against you. For example, you might reveal your whereabouts and who you were with, or reveal a new asset or a future career or relationship intention that undermines the case you are trying to put forward in court.
The use of social media activity as evidence is still quite uncommon, but we will see an increase in the future. I believe we will see agencies or investigators looking at the entirety of the other partner’s online activity in order to prove or disprove their character, credibility and their current and future financial circumstances.
It might not be a case of Big Brother watching you but do not be surprised if your ex and his or her legal team is.
If you have concerns about your ex-partner’s social media use or other aspects of divorce and separation then contact Diane Genders Solicitors, family law specialists in Lincoln on 01522 516500 today.