We all know that posting on social media – whether on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, or any other publicly accessible platforms – is increasingly the way many people express themselves and share their story with friends, family, and anyone else who can see their posts. When people enter into the divorce process, sometimes they go quiet on social media (and this is often a good strategy/approach in all respects, and personal interaction with friends and families is a better alternative), but in other cases, divorce causes people to spend significantly more time on social media now that they have time alone and plenty on their mind they want to say and display.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with sharing with the world that you are going through a divorce, it is also true that, to some extent, anything you post on social media can be used against you in a court of law. Even if you have “blocked” your ex on social media, attorneys and private investigators can typically find your posts, and if there is something incriminating to your case, they would have every reason to use it against you.
Below are a few informal “rules” you should consider abiding by while using social media during the pendency of your divorce.
1. Never Trash Your Spouse’s Parenting Skills
Your spouse may have terrible parenting skills, and, when you are in a custody battle with that person, you may feel an immense temptation to proclaim this to the world via social media. No matter how justifiable your complaints are, however, you should avoid this.
First off, your followers won’t be deciding your custody arrangement, the court will. Your attorney will know how to best present evidence based complaints to the court. More importantly, however, courts do not look kindly on parents who seek to “alienate” the other parent, which can include turning the children and others against that other parent. Thus, social media posts trashing the other parent can well be seen as a form of parental alienation, and thus backfire in the long run if a court determines that doing so reflects poorly on your own parenting skills.
2. Don’t Post Information That Differs From the Financial Picture You Present to the Court
We have all seen the type of social media post where the poster is showing off financially, even if the poster thinks they’re just sharing their life: the fancy vacation, the new car purchase, the new jewelry, the new apartment, and so on. We’re all happy for your financial success, but this raises two important issues in a divorce.
If you’re trying to rub your new life in your ex’s face, or even if you’re not trying to, but your ex might perceive it that way, then don’t be surprised if your ex suddenly wants more money from you in the divorce, or wants to pay you less money. Also, ask whether what you are showing off in your social media posts is the same as what you are showing the court. If you claim you are in dire financial straits and thus need x amount of spousal support, but Instagram says you’re drinking Cristal on a yacht regularly, the court may treat your statements with skepticism. And if you suddenly have a $50,000 new car you are posting about on Facebook, but that car is nowhere to be found on your financial disclosures, this is also a big problem.
3. You Don’t Need to Announce Your New Girlfriend/Boyfriend to the World
Finding new love after a breakup – or even just a new fling – can feel exhilarating and liberating after a bad marriage, and you may want to tell the world about it, or you may just want to make your ex feel jealous. Putting aside the psychological question of whether trying to make your ex feel bad is going to make you feel truly happy (hint: it probably won’t, and your social media followers are probably more likely to question your actions and motives than give you the affirmation you desire), this is not a particularly great move for your legal case either.
The goal of every divorce should be to reach a settlement outside of court as quickly (and fairly) as reasonably possible rather than go to trial and/or argue in court for months, which will most certainly bring high levels of stress and legal fees. What can be easy to forget in the process, though, is that reaching a settlement means your soon-to-be ex-spouse has to sign on the dotted line in agreeing to terms that you can live with. Ask yourself, does showing off your new significant other on social media make your ex more likely or less likely to cooperate with you in that process? And again, even if you’ve blocked him or her, you can be sure the news of the new love interest will get back to them.
4. Don’t Complain About the Judge in Your Case
This is one that should really go without saying, but apparently that is not the case. Never, ever talk poorly about the judge in your divorce case on social media (or for that matter, anyone else involved with the case). Judges are people too (and some are even on social media) with emotions and emotional reactions, and if the public can see your post, know that judges can see it too. If there is a serious issue with the judge in your case, you can appeal a decision. But nothing good can come from lambasting a judge on social media, but plenty of bad can.
5. Never Post Information That Reflects Poorly On You as a Parent
Returning to the idea of broadcasting your “new life” post-separation, you may want to show the world that, in the immortal words of “Mean Girls,” “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.” Or whatever version of that applies to you in the sense of letting the social media world understand that you’re coming out of this marriage ready to party and reclaim that joie de vivre that your ex-partner squashed during the marriage.
Which is all well and fine, but if you post about the ninth round of margaritas or a picture of you glassy-eyed on a West Hollywood rooftop at 2:00 a.m. with questionable company (much less on a night that you have custody of the children), don’t be surprised if your posts show up on an Exhibit List for your cross-examination during your Custody Hearing. Just avoid posting things that might make a neutral observer (e.g. your Judge) question your parenting skills altogether. Better yet, avoid the underlying activities that might make someone question your role as a parent in the first place, particularly at a time when there is an ongoing case on that very topic.
Guidance on Your California Family Law Questions From a Westlake Village Family Law Attorney
If you would like to learn more about how our office can provide guidance on any California family law issues you are facing in Ventura County or Los Angeles County, contact the Zonder Family Law Group office today at (805) 777-7740 or (818) 877-0001, or schedule your strategy session using easy-to-use online form here.