Divorce is often a messy and stressful life event that leaves you wanting to scream to anyone who will listen. It’s completely normal to want to vent when going through such a grueling process and confiding in someone with a sympathetic ear can help you cope with the daily struggle.
Airing your grievances with a few close friends or family members is one thing, but going online to disclose intimate personal details of your breakup with a few hundred acquaintances is another. In this day and age, social media allows users to quickly and easily share as much of their private lives as they please. During divorce, this can spell disaster.
Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney Natalie Sears says social media plays some role in 90% of her cases. More often than not, she says it’s best to shut down social media use completely until your divorce is final.
“It’s extremely important that they do that, honestly, because it removes the possibility for them to post something that would be inappropriate for a judge to see or the opposing party to see,” she said, “because emotion can really get the best of us in divorce proceedings.”
Here are four common social media blunders to make sure you avoid during your divorce.
Announcing your divorce
It can be awkward figuring out a way to let all your friends and family know you’re divorced. Some couples have found social media to be an effective way to let everyone know that they’re splitting up, but it’s best to proceed with extreme caution before posting anything.
You really shouldn’t make any announcement without the consent of your spouse since you likely share many friends and it wouldn’t be fair to her to let the cat out of the bag before she is ready.
If you both do agree to post about it, keep the message short and to the point. You could even make the announcement together, depending on the relationship you have with your ex.
There is no need to share personal details as that can be counterproductive to both parties. Let everyone know what’s going on and that you’re disappointed things didn’t work out but you’re focused on moving forward. Leave it at that.
Bashing your ex
For some, social media provides a huge support system, but that doesn’t mean you should use your network to disparage your ex.
Lobbing insults only adds tension between you, your ex, family, and friends. It’s basically throwing gasoline on an already volatile situation and makes it much less likely that your ex will be cooperative as you work towards a settlement. It’s also going to strain your relationship moving forward if you have to co-parent.
It’s normal to be emotional and have hurt feelings during divorce, but lashing out is only going to hurt you in the long run.
Perhaps the most common, and damaging, social media mishap guys make in divorce is oversharing pictures or information that ends up incriminating them during their case when those posts are presented as evidence.
For example, if you’re in a fight over custody of your kids, it’s not going to look good to a judge if there are a bunch of pictures of you out drinking and partying. If your wife is making the case that you should have to pay alimony, it will be hard to argue you can’t afford it if there are pictures of you on vacation or with a new car.
Keep in mind, photos without context can make things appear a lot worse than they actually were. What might have been a quiet evening out for drinks with friends can look like you were raging if it’s framed a certain way.
Snooping on your ex
Remember the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” It’s tempting to snoop on your ex’s social media accounts to see how she’s holding up, but for the sake of your emotional well-being you should avoid this.
You might get the impression from her postings that she’s moved on from the relationship quicker than you (even if in reality she is likely dealing with the same emotions you are). Or you might get the idea that she is really struggling to hold it together. That could provide temporary satisfaction, but it’s ultimately unhealthy to take pleasure in someone else’s misery, even if it is your ex.
Maybe you think checking in on how she’s doing will provide some sort of closure, but more often than not it sends you down an unending rabbit hole.
Instead of focusing on her, think of steps you can take to better yourself and help you move forward with life after divorce.