Social Media During Divorce: Cyber Comments Have Real Implications
In the midst of a divorce, emotions can run high – so high that you may seek to voice your loss of respect for your (former) significant other. In the past, venting to a friend or family member either in person or on the phone was the norm. Today it means turning to your social media profiles letting your online followers know just how much you despise your spouse. Your emotions get the best of you and unfortunately that’s a decision you’ll ultimately regret.
Countless careers, relationships and business deals have gone sour in recent years due to one person’s decision to make disparaging remarks on social media. Divorce is no different. The reality of today’s always-connected world is that once you make a negative comment online, it is out there for the world to see. Simply put, in the digital age, privacy is quickly disappearing.
The best advice regarding use of social media during a divorce? Don’t do it. Don’t tweet out your distaste for a judge’s comment. Don’t make reproachful remarks about your partner on social media or post a compromising photo on Instagram. The blowback certainly will cause rifts and poison family relationships. It will certainly discouraged by your lawyer. You will be bluntly told to take down all posts and to refrain from doing so again.
In court, such posts become admissible evidence. Evidence which can be used to demonstrate emotional instability, parental lack of judgment or fitness. And if the children happen upon the posts? What would they think if they stumbled upon their parent’s public description of the other? Losing a parent’s involvement at this vulnerable time in their life particularly when the message that bullying is unacceptable conduct came from that parent may cause irreparable harm to the child.
Scour all social media postings before declaring your intent separate and proceeding to court. Take down any negative messages or posts. Once you start the formal separation process, you cannot destroy relevant evidence. Social media posts are considered relevant evidence before the judge or arbitrator rules them inadmissible. Every lawyer in Ontario has a duty to undertake an investigation about their client’s background facts, identification of issues, and advise the client in clear and direct language an appropriate course of immediate action.
Today, social media is one of the first places a competitor explores to seek out an economic or market advantage. Family law disputants engaged in a public courtroom battle or private arbitration process are involved in an adversarial process. An advantage by any acceptable means is exploited to gain an upper hand.
Be forewarned. An ongoing online search of all social media will be undertaken whether you are advised or not. No negative posts? Advantage to you.