Many attorneys are starting to advise their clients to immediately delete their Facebook accounts upon filing for divorce or beginning a custody battle. While that might not be necessary, there are some definite issues to be aware of when using social media sites (Facebook, MySpace, Google+, Twitter, Linked In, etc.).
Limiting Access to Your Profile
A good first step in evaluating your approach to social media during your case is to check your privacy settings to ensure that only your close friends and family can see your posts and photos. However, do not assume that just because your former spouse is not listed as one of your friends or followers, that he or she does not have access to your page. Keep in mind that your former spouse may have access to your page through a mutual friend or through your child's account. Always assume that anything you post could be read by the other party.
In addition, if your children have access to your Facebook profile, you want to be very careful not to demean the other parent (and that parent's family members as well) in your posts or say anything about the divorce/separation. Doing so is not only harmful to the children who are now witnessing the conflict, but it can also be used against you in court to show that you're not supporting the children's relationship with the other parent.
Think Before You Post
Parties in a divorce or child custody battle can, and often do, look at their former spouse's pages and try to use that information against them in custody and support hearings. Information that you have posted can come back to bite you in several ways:
Review What Your Friends Post
Just because you have followed the rules and kept your posts professional, that does not mean that the coast is clear. Keep in mind that when your friends post photos, tag you, or reference you in comments, those posts show up on your page. If you see an unflattering or damaging photo of yourself, ask your friend to remove the photo. If your friend is not willing to do so, minimize the damage by un-tagging yourself from the photo or post.
Review What Your Children Post
There is no minimum age in order to obtain a Twitter account. Facebook, MySpace and Google+ require children to be at least 13 years old before they are eligible to have their own profile. However, there is no verification of a child's actual age when they sign up for an account, and a child can easily substitute in an earlier birth year in order to open an account. With your children's accounts, there are several issues that need to be considered:
As long as you remain vigilant about keeping your communication civil and making sure that harmful information is not posted on your social media sites (and your child's), you should be able to maintain your social media connections. Staying connected to your friends and family can be an enormous help when you're going through something as tough as a divorce or contested custody battle. Just make sure those connections help you through the process rather than hurt you.
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