Summer vacation is a great time for making memories and posting online to show off the special time you shared as a family on social media. But sometimes, the posts that spouses or former spouses post on social media can come back to cause problems for your divorce or post dissolution case. When parents get divorced, sometimes communication becomes less about talking about the issues facing the two people splitting up and more about building a Florida family law case. This is problematic, especially when there are children that can get caught in the middle of two adults fighting. Anger can also be a strong motivator for you or your former partner to start trolling the internet looking for information to use against each other.
While in the past, scorned partners could speak ill of the “bad partner” to friends or co-workers to garner support, social media has changed it so an angry former partner now has a global platform to spread dirty laundry, even if it’s not true. Worse than that, photos or postings can be taken out of context only to make a person look like they are doing things that are not even accurate.
The effect of social media has certainly spilled over into Florida legal cases involving divorce, modification, child support, child custody, parenting plans, relocations plans, and other matters. Technology has also affected how things are done. Now, a child can be called and tracked on a mobile phone. As such, both social media and technology can be a tool and can also be a weapon in the context of a contested family law matter. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the law firm Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. can connect you with a family law attorney in the practice to advise you and represent you in divorce and post divorce family law matters.
The question becomes: How do I protect myself from social media taking center stage in my divorce or in proceedings against me? At Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A. , Jennifer Erlinger is an experienced family law attorney who has worked with clients on a variety of issues, and the family law team is attuned to helping clients maintain their security and integrity in dealing with family law cases. Legally speaking, social media posts can be included as evidence in court, and can be considered by the court. We recommend that several steps are taken to protect yourself.
First, if you can, take a break from social media. Review your current online presence. Are you an active poster? Would you want a judge to see what you are posting on Facebook or Instagram? Do you have old profiles that you should close? Have you shared your password with your former partner or how long has it been since you changed your password? Many times when litigation starts to become more active, soon-to-be exes start to either look at your social media profiles or try to gain access to profiles if you have granted them access before. Like any other hacker, this breach of security can have far reaching impact to you and your children.
Second, watch your posts and the posts of your friends. Do not post anything that could show you acting neglectful or unfit as a parent or an unstable person. Simple comments and jokes can be and will be taken out of context in a legal proceeding. Rather than have to deal with the time, stress, and expense of dealing with with a post or photo that has been posted – be smart and avoid posting such photos and comments to begin with. Do not post negative things or make threats about your children’s other parent. Changing your privacy settings as to who can see your posts is one great step to making sure that your posts are only being seen by friends and not expanded to other groups. Also, keeping in mind that your friends can tag you, so be sure to keep an eye on what your friends are posting that has your name on it. Choose your words and photos carefully, and be mindful that everything you post is likely to be seen by a judge or mediator in your case.
Finally, third, when you are involved in litigation either during your divorce or after, consider whether this may be good time to unplug from social media all together. You may choose to temporarily deactivate your account or just stop posting. This is not an option for everyone, but may be great way to avoid lost time invested in social media to devote to working on yourself and your relationship with your children.
While the Florida divorce process and associated children issues for married couples and the post divorce process for divorced spouses can be difficult, it is important that you not let it consume you or your life. Remember that your time with your children is sacred and there is nothing wrong with showing off a great time over the summer. Posting with positivity is a great way to show your children how proud you are to not only be their parent, but also at how much you enjoy being with them.