Updated on August 24, 2022
Divorce is a complicated process that is replete with emotional upheaval. In most cases, unburdening yourself to loved ones and friends during your divorce can be extremely helpful. When people extend this unburdening to social media, however, things can quickly become problematic.
Social media has changed the way people interact with each other. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok are changing many aspects of our life, including marriage and even divorce.
Many do not realize that using social media unwisely can cause divorces. After filing for divorce, using social media unwisely can have a significant impact on many aspects of the divorce case, including alimony, child custody, and property division.
Speak with a Florence divorce attorney to protect your rights and avoid mistakes that could harm you or your divorce case. Read on to find out how social media may affect your divorce in Texas.
Social Media Can Affect Your Marriage
We have all turned to social media when we are bored, are looking to connect for just a bit, or just don’t know what else to do. All told, social media seems harmless enough. However, excessive social media usage can take its toll on a marriage, and more and more divorcing couples are citing social media as playing a role in the dissolution of their marriages.
If you are facing a divorce caused in part by social media use, you are facing a difficult path forward, but an experienced Florence divorce attorney can help.
Infidelity Has Never Been Easier
Infidelity is obviously exceptionally hard on marriages. Spouses cheat for myriad reasons that often have to do with their own insecurities and other emotional hurdles. For those spouses who are predisposed to looking outside their marriages for whatever it is they are looking for, social media has made it incredibly easy for them to do so.
Social Media Can Fill an Emotional Need
Marriages are between two people. You married your spouse—for better or worse. Social media, however, has become so ubiquitous that some spouses feel like their marriage contains a third party.
In the past, we turned to our partners for the majority of our emotional needs. The more couples connect in these ways, the deeper their bonds grow, which strengthens marriages. For this reason, it used to be rare for couples with long marriages behind them to seek a divorce, but it is becoming more and more common.
One element of this increase in divorces is that spouses are finding other support outside their marriages—often on social media, which is always there and always ready to have a chat any time of the day or night.
Even when social media use has nothing to do with infidelity or emotional connections outside of marriage, it can still represent a disconnect between spouses. When you have a story or thought to share with your spouse and he or she is on social media, it is a missed opportunity to connect. When these missed opportunities pile up, it can leave a shell of a marriage.
As the amount of time a spouse spends on social media rises, the effects on a marriage can be even more profound. Ultimately, one spouse’s relationship with social media can make the other feel less and less relevant.
Social media has become a constant in our lives, and when a spouse allows this interloper to fill in for the connection that used to come from his or her spouse, it can instigate a crack in the foundation of a marriage. When a marriage reaches this point, many couples start considering divorce.
Studies Have Confirmed Social Media’s Effect on Marriages
While we recognize the meteoric rise of social media in our lives, most of us do not consider it a significant factor in divorce. However, a 2013 study on social media points to just such a connection. The study found that those who spend more time on social media platforms are more likely to experience marital conflict related to social media, which can lead to divorce.
The study focused on social media—specifically Facebook—and relationship outcomes, and it found that excessive use of Facebook can lead to considerable conflict in romantic relationships in the following ways:
Some people who rely too heavily on social media fall into emotional affairs in which they turn to someone online to fill their emotional needs.
Sometimes, an emotional affair begun online evolves into a full-blown physical affair that is an overt betrayal of one's marital contract.
The effect of fostering an inappropriate relationship (or relationships) online can cause a rift that leads to separation or divorce.
The 2013 study cites a good deal of prior research that indicates the more time someone spends on Facebook or another social media platform, the more likely that person is to carefully monitor his or her partner’s activity on social media.
This stringent monitoring can lead to Facebook-induced jealousy based on one’s partner’s interactions with past partners or with potential new partners. This negative consequence is most closely associated with newer marriages and relationships and can lead to serious relationship difficulties.
Social Media Should Be Used Wisely
Everyone loves the occasional jolt of happiness that comes from viewing a photo of a cute kitten that has gone viral, but when does our engagement with social media cross the line into too much?
The Mayo Clinic shares that technology, including social media outlets, can suck up excessive amounts of time if you do not place limits on yourself. Further, it expounds that using social media excessively can negatively affect your emotional health and personal relationships. Keeping your social media usage within the healthy range could help you bolster your marriage.
Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce Case
Nowadays, people cannot imagine their lives without social media. However, what you post on social media could harm your divorce case because your tweets, photos, and posts on social media can be used as evidence in court.
The National Law Review shares some serious statistics and thought-provoking information related to social media and divorce in the United States:
More than 80% of divorce attorneys are able to mine evidence on social platforms that are worth presenting in court.
More than 65% of divorce cases use Facebook as a principal source of evidence.
Your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s lawyer will be looking for anything that could be used against you to win a favorable outcome for their client, including your posts on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms. Your social media posts could be used as admissible evidence in court against you to gain an advantage.
While it may still be safe to use social media after filing for divorce, it is vital to avoid posting certain things that could work against you. Consult with a Florence divorce attorney to see which social media habits could be hurting your case.
Avoid Posting These 5 Things on Social Media During a Divorce
We have all come to rely upon our social media accounts to reach out and share with family, friends, and loved ones. However, it is essential to carefully consider what you are posting and what kind of story you might inadvertently be telling if you are going through a divorce.
What may feel like very private interactions or posts are anything but. Nearly everything that has ever been posted—however briefly—can live on indefinitely in one form or another. That private message you sent to a friend of a friend can come back to haunt you in divorce court because social media continues to play an increasingly starring role in divorce cases.
Spouses who live and breathe social media tend not to be as careful as they should be when posting, and this fact can backfire dramatically in divorce court. What you or your spouse share online can also be shared in your divorce case, which should give you pause. If you are contemplating or working through a divorce, avoid posting the following things on social media:
Partying and Drinking
It is advisable to avoid posts about partying, drinking alcohol, or using drugs at all costs, especially if your divorce involves children. Your children’s other parent can use these posts to make you look like a neglectful parent.
If you post photos of you hanging out with your friends on the nights in which you were supposed to be with your child, the opposing party can use those photos to convince the court that you are an “unfit” parent and that it would be in the best interests of the child to spend less time with you.
Even if you love to post pictures of yourself in party mode, now is not the time. Take down the pictures of you doing the macarena on the bar with a pitcher of margarita in your hand. If your spouse is trying to besmirch your character as a parent or establish that you have a drinking problem, these pictures could serve his or her purposes far better than they serve your own.
Click here to learn about other mistakes that could complicate your child custody case.
Maskless in a Crowd
The fact is that we are living through the most difficult health crisis our nation (and the world) has experienced in our lifetimes, and the only thing anyone can do to mitigate the danger is to social distance, avoid crowds, and wear a mask in public.
If you choose to eschew this commonsense approach and broadcast the fact with pictures of yourself out maskless in a crowd, expect your divorcing spouse to use this as evidence that he or she is a more fit parent.
Posting photos of expensive purchases, vacations, or gifts for your romantic partner can cause trouble if you are dealing with child support or alimony issues in your divorce.
If you are behind on child support or alimony payments, or if you refuse to pay your spouse during or following a divorce because you “cannot afford it,” those pictures of expensive purchases, gifts, or vacation photos will contradict your claims.
In fact, if you buy expensive presents for your romantic partner and boast about it on social media, your spouse could claim that you are using marital funds to buy those gifts since you are not officially divorced yet.
Details about the Divorce Case or Legal Matters
Many people cannot resist the temptation to vent on social media when going through a divorce. Unfortunately, discussing the details of your divorce case or other legal matters is one of several factors that can complicate your divorce case or make it more adversarial than it has to be.
You should also be sure to avoid posting any negative comments about the judge in your case, your divorcing spouse’s attorney, or anyone else who plays a role in your case. Badmouthing the court, the legal process, or anyone involved in your case is very likely to backfire. These posts can easily make their way into your case, and the court is unlikely to look kindly on them.
Remember, anything you post online will basically exist forever.
Photos of Your New Romantic Partner
While it may be tempting to start a new romantic relationship to move on with your life during a divorce, posting photos of you and your new romantic partner could make your spouse less cooperative and more hostile. After all, you never know how your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may feel about your new relationship during a divorce.
It is also not a good idea to post photos of your new partner on social media because the judge could argue that you committed adultery. In Texas, dating while your divorce case is pending can be considered an extramarital affair. If the court determines that you committed adultery, they may consider your infidelity when dividing your community property during a divorce.
Evidence of Hidden Assets
Since your emails, texts, and social media posts are admissible as evidence in court, the opposing party may use your social media pictures to prove the existence of hidden assets.
Blocking your spouse may not prevent his or her attorney from seeing your posts about hidden assets, which may include automobiles, art, jewelry, luxury items, or other types of property.
Use Social Media Responsibly During a Divorce
While the general advice is to stop using social media altogether until your divorce is final, some people cannot stay away from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other sites. If this is the case for you, you can continue using social media during your divorce as long as you do so responsibly. Follow these tips when using social media sites while your divorce case is ongoing:
Change your privacy settings. While this may not prevent your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from seeing everything you post, changing your settings to private can still be helpful.
Unfollow your ex, their family, friends, and anyone who could access your photos and posts.
Avoid posting anything personal about your children, divorce case, new romantic partner, and assets.
Avoid posting anything emotional about your spouse, your children, or anything else related to your divorce.
Change all of your passwords to prevent your spouse from accessing your devices and social media accounts.
Talk to your friends and family and ask them to avoid posting any comments under your photos or tagging you in their posts without your approval until your divorce is final.
If you have questions about social media use while a divorce is pending, contact a Florence divorce attorney. He or she will have answers to your questions and will help you find a path forward in your divorce.
It Is Legal to Use Social Media as Evidence in Divorce Cases
Many people wonder if it is legal to mine for divorce dirt online that can be used as evidence in divorce court. The answer is that this is relatively new territory, which makes it something like the Wild West. As states firm up their laws on the matter, the legal parameters could tighten.
There are some laws on the books that prohibit underhanded dealings in some states—such as making a false account and friending your spouse. Things like overtly hacking into your spouse’s accounts are also generally off-limits in the eyes of the law.
The more salient point here, however, is that a lot of online activity is not hidden. For example, if your spouse uses your joint checking account to pay for his or her premium Tinder account, that is open to interpretation in your divorce. Much of the evidence that will play a pivotal role in divorce cases comes from posts and profiles that are open for anyone to see.
Call a Florence Divorce Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today
It is advisable to consult with a Florence divorce attorney to find out how you can protect your interests and rights when your divorce case is pending. When used irresponsibly, social media can have a negative impact on your divorce proceedings. That is why it is vital to avoid posting things that could adversely affect your case.
A skilled divorce lawyer at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard can help you understand the possible problems that social media may create while your divorce case is pending. Call us at (254) 781-4222 or contact us online to discuss your situation.