Life is starting to look better: your divorce is underway, and major changes are coming. While it can be tempting to announce the good news on social media, and maybe throw a hint or two to your ex about how happy you are, most matrimonial cases now feature information taken from social media, text messages, chats and geo-tagged data attached as exhibits to motions or offered as evidence at trial.
Remember that social media posts and past conversations are still accessible regardless of whether your accounts are private, or you are connected to your ex on social media. And it’s about more than just what may be used in court; an amicable divorce proceeding can spiral into a protracted litigation if you turn to social media to vent your frustrations.
What’s more, being connected on the cloud, maintaining old passwords, and leaving email and other accounts set to automatically open on a computer to which your spouse has access could mean inadvertently sharing information – before, during, or after a divorce – that you may not want your ex to see.
Here are three tips to help you manage your digital footprint and protect yourself online and in the cloud during a divorce.
Manage your privacy. If at one point in time you shared passwords with your ex-spouse, now is the time to change these details. This can prevent intentional (and unintentional) snooping that might reveal more about your current personal life – or even your legal strategy – than you’d like to share with your soon-to-be-ex. As an additional barrier, consider changing your username to something less discoverable, and be sure to check the privacy settings for your social media and cloud accounts to ensure you know who has access. This updating of passwords should be applied to passwords used to access any computer of yours that is kept in the family residence as well as for specific accounts—social media, banking, email, even shopping sites.
Set boundaries and expectations with loved ones. Explain to friends and family why it’s important to keep social media announcements to a minimum. There’s no need to go cold turkey and stop using your social media but remind your close friends and family that your presence on social media needs to be minimal until the divorce is final. This includes other people posting about your divorce, tagging you in posts related to your divorce, or otherwise posting news related to this aspect of your life. Also, be aware that the six degrees of separation can become only one or two with social media: just because you may block or unfriend your spouse, it is more than likely that someone they are connected to will still be able to access you and/or your friends and family’s posts.
Know that online activity could impact your custody or spousal agreement. If you are in the middle of a custody battle or looking for additional spousal support,there are certain images that might not sit well with the courts. For example, if you are going to court to gain more time with your child, make sure to not post any photos of you drinking, smoking or excessively partying. On the flipside, be sure not to disparage your spouse online, especially because you never know who might be reading your posts. Denigrating a person publicly can have a negative impact on not only his or her business relationships but also their earning potential. That could result in less support or the distribution of fewer assets to you.
A good guideline is that you should not post anything, even privately among a smaller group of friends, that you would not want the judge presiding over your case to see. Keep a low profile, protect your information, and understand the potential consequences of posting, publishing and otherwise being connected and visible to your ex during the divorce process.