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Divorce and Social Networking – New Rules

A couple of months ago, Daniel Clement posted a nice article with suggestions about how to stay out of trouble during a divorce when you participate in social networking. Here's what he had to say:

“Remember the YouTube spectacle of Tricia Walsh Smith who publicly humiliated her husband and, ultimately, herself. In the age of social networking, new rules of apply to couples going through divorce. The rules, as compiled by Time, can succinctly be boiled to one- ‘Discretion is the better of valor.'

[Here are the rules.]

“1. Don't brag. Your claims of poverty will ring hollow if you brag on Facebook about your purchases of expensive items or post photographs of lavish vacations.

“2. Keep the party off-line Sure you may want to let off some steam, but if you are engaged in a custody fight, the pictures of you holding a bong in one hand and a half empty bottle of “Jack” in the other are not going to win you points with the judge. They probably are not going to be too helpful when lecturing your kids about sobriety or on your next job interview.

“3. Guilt by association. You are who you hang out with. See Rule No 2.

“4. Keep the details of the divorce private. Don't fuel the fire with comments and criticisms on the internet. No one likes their spouse's divorce attorney or the judge after an unfavorable ruling. But remember, the judge is going to make many rulings in the course of a case- some you will win, others you will lose. Do you really want the judge to rule on your case after you publicly criticized him or her?

“5. Don't Defriend. As Time points out, unless it is high conflict, ‘Don't “defriend” in-laws or your ex's friends right away. People need time to adjust.'”

This should be a good reminder to everyone enjoying social networking while they go through a divorce. As I discussed in a previous post on July 2, 2009, social media are becoming more common-place and are also become a major source of information for interested people. Pictures, statements, profile details and other information that appear in media, such as Facebook, can show up in court and can be very embarrassing, or worse.

And, it's not just your site that you need to be concerned about. If you have friends who take your picture and then post it on a page, or who write about what you and s/he did or what s/he saw, you may have some “splainin” to do. And it may turn into testimony in court. Following the above rules should help everyone to be more careful about their involvement in social media.