Like most things in life, social media enables both good and bad behavior. On the one hand, social media allows parents, siblings, and other family members to keep in touch regularly—whether they’re separated by a custody arrangement or other life circumstances.
According to a recent study from Brigham Young University, being connected to your child through social media results in “higher pro-social behavior, lower relationship aggression, and lower internalizing behavior.”
On the negative side of things, social media can create tension and lead to legal consequences, such as child support disputes after one too many “luxury living” Instagram posts. Of course, we’re all only human, after all—who hasn’t seen celebrities, who even have their own team of public relations experts, venting over Twitter.
Here’s the good news: you’re much less likely to make such naive social media mistakes if you have a good understanding of their potential consequences. Whether you’ve recently undergone a divorce, or you’re a veteran of family court, this guide will walk you through the perplexing world of social media for complicated families.
What NOT to do
Let’s start out by going over some of the behaviors you should avoid on social media. According to a 2012 study from researchers at the University of Missouri, “couples going through [bitter] divorces and separation were using technology as a weapon by either manipulating or withholding information and limiting access to their children.” Here are some not-so-great examples of the kinds of social media behaviors that inflame tension during and after a divorce.
Posting negative comments about your former spouse, his or her family, and others in your mutual social circle.
It’s perfectly normal and acceptable to be angry and even critical of your spouse’s decision-making during the divorce, but airing these concerns over social media is unacceptable. Moreover, Facebook pages are increasingly cited as evidence in divorce and custody-related hearings, which the courts may look at.
Updating your relationship status with a new boyfriend or girlfriend before the divorce is finalized
This may not get you into legal trouble, but it will create tension in the proceedings that is simply not worth it.
Tweeting about wild parties, drug usage, and other questionable lifestyle choices
Parents deserve to unwind and have fun too, but keep your wilder nights off of social media. Especially on nights where you have custody of the children, posting about partying can threaten your current arrangement.
What to DO
There’s enough negativity on social media as it is, so why not substitute negative posts for positive ones?
Sharing “divorce selfies”
Since the reality that 50% of marriages will end in divorce, the recent trend of divorce selfies gained traction after one former couple posted a smiling selfie leaving the courthouse with a caption that included, “And now that you know it’s possible—please consider our way if you find yourself on this road, or share our message if we can help remind them that it’s possible to love your kids more than you hate/distrust/dislike your ex.” “Divorce selfies” can definitely promote that
- there is no shame in divorce
- that creating a happier environment leads to happier times with your children where your love for them flourishes.
Limiting social media interactions with your former spouse
Although it’s important to maintain a good relationship with your former spouse, this doesn’t mean you have to track his or her daily life—especially if it causes drama. Unfollow each other on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep the peace during more contentious phases of the divorce.
Keeping up with your children and other family members
Remind your children that you care by frequently liking their posts and leaving positive, encouraging comments. You can also share their posts on your own page, tag them in status updates, and post old photographs to maintain strong bonds no matter what the custody arrangement might be. We all make mistakes. Don’t be discouraged if your social media usage thus far isn’t exactly squeaky clean. However, you can make a difference today by deleting old, harmful posts and starting fresh with positive posts, like the ones we’ve outlined above.
We understand that navigating legal family issues is often a painful and emotionally draining experience. Staying informed is the best way to improve your chances in any legal battle. Begin the process today—call the Law Offices of Silky Sahnan at 1-877-88-DIVORCE to schedule a confidential consultation at our Brentwood office.
At the Law Offices of Silky Sahnan, we are determined to help. We have compiled an ebook addressing the top 7 most frequently asked questions about divorce, including the #1 question, “How much will it cost?” followed by, “How do I know when I’m really ready?” Download our ebook and get answers to your burning questions about divorce, plus we will include a FREE self-evaluation tool to help you determine if you’re ready to take action.
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