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Separating parents should not air grievances on social media

By Mark Demas

Going through a separation or divorce can be difficult for everyone involved. If you want to reach out to friends and families for support during this time, it is best to do that in person or by phone. That is because posting about your situation on social media outlets such as Facebook or Snapchat may just exacerbate your problems.

In today’s online world, one of the first places your ex-partner’s lawyer will look for incriminating evidence is on social media platforms. Pictures or statements that may seem harmless can come back to haunt you when a judge is deciding on critical issues such as access.

While you don’t have to avoid using your social media accounts altogether during the dissolution of a relationship, a good degree of caution is necessary. You can still post to your connections, but avoid anything related to your divorce or separation.

10 tips to keep in mind

Don’t put down your ex-partner. Avoid the temptation to speak ill of your ex or spread information that may have been secret while you were together. Most people want to settle their separation or divorce as quickly and as amicably as possible, so bashing an ex in a social media post works against that goal. The same goes with attacking their family members or friends. That could delay a settlement, resulting in increased legal fees. If you need to vent, do it with a trusted friend over a glass of wine, not online.

Your children may see what you post. Depending on the age of your children, they may see what you write online. Putting down your former partner or family members could upset them. The court will recognize any anguish caused, which will not work in your favour. To help children get through this difficult time, remain civil and respectful when mentioning your ex. In addition, don’t make the children a focus of your social media posts. There is always the chance a photo or video could be used as evidence against you in a contested case for child access.

Don’t discuss your case online. Even if you and your spouse have an amicable divorce, don’t share details of what the settlement is until it is finalized. Any sort of status update may jeopardize negotiations. Let your lawyers do their job and wait until a settlement is reached before posting anything.

Review your privacy settings. Most of us give little thought to the privacy settings of our social media accounts. That is a big mistake, especially during a divorce or separation. Change your settings so that only people you have approved can view your posts. Do not allow friends to tag you in pictures or include hashtags. If they do, you have lost control of images that include you being circulated online. For example, if you are having a few drinks with friends and a group photo is taken of you imbibing, that may be used against you.

Speak to friends and family. Ask friends and family members not to reference your divorce or separation in their social media posts. It’s not just what is posted on your wall that matters; what others post can affect you as well. Married couples tend to have mutual friends. During a divorce, these friends may reveal information that you shared in confidence with them, so keep that in mind before divulging something that can be used against you.

Change your passwords. Your ex-partner may know your social media passwords and will be able to access what you post, even if you have removed them as a friend.

Don’t post intimate photos or videos. You may be violating laws dealing with consent if you post intimate images of your partner without their permission, further complicating your legal battles. In the same regard, do not post photos of you partying, drinking or using drugs. Those could impact the court’s decision on access.

Don’t brag about a new partner. If you are involved with someone else, don’t post photos of the two of you until the divorce is settled. That may be difficult if the person is significant in your life, but showing them on social media can backfire in divorce proceedings. These images may support the allegation that you were unfaithful in your previous relationship. Also avoid posts about costly purchases. We all want to show off our new car or exotic trips, but avoid that temptation during a divorce, especially if you and your ex-spouse have not yet sorted out financial arrangements.

Be cautious with accepting new friends. If you receive a friend request from someone you do not know, decline it. There is always the chance it is from someone who is working with your ex-partner and who is trying to look at your social media posts.

Don’t snoop on your partner online. Don’t try to dig up dirt on your partner online. Social media sleuthing can lead to issues around privacy, especially if you create a fake account to gain information.

Contact us for information

It is estimated that there are more than 30 million social media accounts in Canada, with many of us having more than one. If you are going through a divorce or separation, what you post online could be used against you as negotiations proceed. Don’t take that chance but instead contact the team at Demas Schaefer Family Lawyers. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through every stage of your divorce. We offer a free 15-minute telephone or video consultation where we can discuss your case and explain your options.

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