Social media use seems to be growing exponentially throughout the U.S. This year, about 78 percent of Americans have a social network profile, which is up five percent from 2015.
So, when a recent Huffington Post article stated that one in seven people indicated that their spouses’ questionable social media activity caused them to consider divorce, our Minnesota divorce lawyers determined that married couples remain uninformed about the potential consequences of their use of social media.
It is virtually impossible for plugged-in spouses to completely avoid the use of social media. However, it is important to recognize how improper use can lead to marital distress — and can provide valuable evidence in contested divorce proceedings.
Tips to Keeping Social Media Use Positive
At this point, social media is hardly a new innovation, but the lessons for its proper use are lagging far behind its popularity. At the very least, married couples need to learn the following lessons immediately:
- Maintain a single account: Just as joint bank accounts cause spouses to think twice about their spending, spouses will naturally think twice about what they post when they have joint social media accounts. At the very least, share passwords.
- Recognize that social media posts are public: Even though there are security measures available to prevent undue information sharing, it is best to assume that the whole world might see any post. This is not the place to seek marital advice during a disagreement or make joking-but-embarrassing statements about a spouse.
- Do not give up real social contact: All too often, social media attracts couples to focus on their phones even during mealtime or when relaxing in the same room. This practice removes the traditional sense of face-to-face social contact and creates alienated relationships.
Online Evidence is Difficult to Erase
Social media may not directly lead to divorce but it provides valuable evidence that can empower spouses during settlement negotiations and in the courtroom. Spouses seeking substantial spousal support or property settlements can lose out when they post pictures of the Lamborghini purchased before the divorce was finalized.
Even more important, parents posting reports of wild parties involving drinking or drugs cannot expect full physical custody of the children. Parenting time can be affected, as well.
Do not expect to undo the damage of social media posts by deleting them from the account — or by using security features to limit your audience. Anyone within or even outside of your network can retain words and images from anywhere on the Internet. They can appear unexpectedly at any given moment.
Early in the divorce process, an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney should ask about your social media presence and your spouse’s activities as well. You can be a step ahead if you have social media information available when you call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.