If I meet someone new, especially if it has anything to do with work, I usually jump on Facebook and see if I can find them. For others, they may check out Twitter, Vine, Instagram or something newer I don’t know about yet. Of course you can’t get to know someone through their self-edited digital representations, but you at least get a hint about who they are –or at least who they like to think they are. So what do you do with your social media presence if you start walking through a divorce?
Let’s back up. Things suck at home. You and your spouse are miserable with each other, so you spend a reasonable amount of time catching up with old friends or making new ones online. I get that. If you kill a big deer or go to a concert or a ballgame or get a new car, you want your digital following to know about it, so you post a picture or something you think is catchy. Or maybe like me, you fancy yourself an aspiring writer with a poignant thought the world will be lost without. Maybe you want to tell the world what a jerk he is and you think it is just fine to show off what God or your plastic surgeon gave you. You are not getting any attention at home and it’s refreshing to have people say nice things. Like it or not, social media creates a platform for the average person with access to the Internet –a voice. Sometimes when marriage is at its hardest, the voice is coming from a place you never thought was in you.
If you are a mom or a dad, you need to be extra careful about your online subtle or overt messages. If you don’t have kids and you want to post pictures of yourself doing keg stands, by all means my friend, go right ahead. However, be mindful that anything you post can and will be used against you in a divorce, especially if child custody is or is made out to be an issue.
My thought is simple, before anybody files anything, go through and edit your social media accounts and remove anything you would find yourself having to explain to a Judge. You also may want to update your security settings and delete random people you don’t really know from your network. Drink in your hand? Delete. Rant about how you got into an argument at Wal-Mart with someone in the checkout line? Click to remove. Any picture where you are shaking like a Polaroid picture? Yes, that too. And lastly, if you do not have on a shirt or you are in a bikini, say bye bye to the picture.
Now the plot thickens. What if something is already on file? Talk to your lawyer. There is an idea in the law as it relates to spoilation. Spoilation is the concept of an adverse consequence from destroying evidence. Odds are the picture of you at a party with a drink in your hand will not be worth the lawyering it would take to make a case for spoliation, but every case is different.
Social media has its place in the world, but like anything, moderation and a certain level of tasteful reserve will serve you well, especially in divorce.