In some ways, social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, has been a boon for communications with friends and family, even those you haven't seen in years. However, your relationship status with social media should be flagged as "it's complicated" if you happen to be involved in a divorce action.
Facebook, Instagram, and other sites can be a goldmine for your estranged spouse's lawyer looking for information that can be used against you.
Some posts can seem innocuous but can cost you severely when it comes time to divide property or even work out child custody. Remember, you may think you are just sharing things with people on your friends' list, but actually it is free to view by the entire world - even when you think you have strict privacy settings.
Avoid sticky financial situations
For example, let us say that you buy a new big-ticket item, such as a car, and post a picture of it on Facebook or Instagram. Your spouse's lawyer could use that picture as evidence that you are more financially well off than you might have let on, something that will likely affect the size of an alimony and child support settlement. It is certainly best to avoid conspicuous consumption during a divorce, and definitely a folly to display it to the entire world.
Don't let a leisurely night out look like bad parenting
One particular social media practice that can trip you up is posting pictures of you at a party or while out on a date with someone other than your estranged spouse. People naturally cast aside inhibitions after a few drinks, but posting pictures of yourself while partying a little too hard can get you labeled an unfit parent.
Even if you are not inebriated, holding a drink is enough to take a photo out of context. Let's face it; not all of us are ready when the camera flashes. An unprepared smile can be misconstrued as evidence of intoxication.
The image of yourself that you have to present to the world is that of a sober, serious person who is putting their children first and their personal pleasures second. Nothing that is on social media should indicate otherwise.
Don't forget about the photos your friends post either
The danger extends to friends who might tag you in their own pictures. Make sure your friends don't tag you in posts or status updates until the divorce is final. Come to think of it, don't respond to any friends requests while the divorce action is still ongoing. They might be people your spouse's lawyer has hired to keep an eye on you.
Abstinence is the best policy
Even before you officially file for divorce, it is a good idea to scrub all of your social media posts that might prove to be damaging. Then, try to limit your social media presence as much as possible. If you can stand it, you should avoid it altogether. Like many other things, abstaining from use is the only surefire way to avoid damaging evidence from being used against you.
Of course, if social media can cause trouble for you during a divorce, it can also cause trouble for your estranged spouse. Your divorce lawyer should be aware of this and will proceed accordingly.