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Divorcing in a digital age

This past week, a woman witnessed two girls being denied access to a United Airlines flight. Apparently they had failed to meet the dress code requirement of the special airline passes they had that allowed them to fly for free. Without knowing the full context of what she saw, the woman tweeted her interpretation of the facts to her many followers. Her tweet went viral, created a news story, and United Airlines had a public relations nightmare on their hands.

Social media spreads information quickly, concisely, and not always accurately. Information shared in a tweet or a post can easily be taken out of context. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but if a compromising picture is shared online, you may not be given a thousand words to explain.

During a divorce proceeding in which information shared on social media is used as evidence this can be a problematic. Something shared online innocently could be used to support a narrative against you if the divorce is contentious. 

Ways social media posts can be taken out of context in a divorce

  • You are tagged in a picture that makes it appear like your location is in conflict with a child visitation matter.
  • You are tagged in a picture that makes you look irresponsible during a time that you are meant to be taking care of the kids. For example, you may appear to be drinking or may appear to be at a party when it's your night to have the children.
  • You post a picture that shows an apparently expensive purchase or investment which may complicate money issues during the divorce.
  • You may have started to date someone after swearing in court that you are single. The timeline might look like you lied about infidelity.

How can you manage social media during a divorce?

  • Turn off the location setting for pictures for yourself.
  • Disable the option that allows friends to check you in at locations.
  • Don't post pictures of yourself with money or with expensive purchases or vacations.
  • Wait until after the divorce is final to make any announcements about your new romance.
  • Try not to share about your divorce online.
  • Remember that all information shared on Facebook is public information and can be used in court.

It is not uncommon in our digital age for information shared on social media to be taken out of context. A tweet or a Facebook post only show part of a story, but that information shared creates a narrative. If you are getting a divorce, the narrative that the tweet or the post creates may or may not be the way that you would tell the story.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce and have questions about how your digital footprint could be used during the proceeding, you may want to consult with a family law attorney.

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