What did we ever do without social media? I’ll tell you what we did. We read actual newspapers that turned our fingers grey from the print. We watched the evening news with Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, or Dan Rather. We wrote letters with pens and pencils on paper. We took a polaroid of family events, parties, vacations, and then invited friends over to look at the photos arranged in binders or in stacks. We called people on telephones that hung from walls with phone cords that could stretch the length of our houses.
You know what else we did? We didn’t get caught when we were somewhere we weren’t supposed to be. Evidence of our shenanigans or indiscretions were rare, if non-existent. Because I grew up in an age without social media, no one took a picture on their smart phone when I did a Jell-O-shot off of a Judge’s bald head at a going away party in 1999 when I was only twenty-five. Oh! And there is absolutely no record of me . . . (ok, I need to stop there).
Social media is fun, informative, and necessary. We need to be careful, however, with the things we say or do, particularly when we are in the middle of a divorce. I once had a client who worked two jobs just to make ends meet, and continued to pay all of the bills for the family even when he and his wife were living separately pending the completion of their divorce. They had four kids, and his Wife home-schooled the children. She motioned the Court for an increase in the amount of temporary spousal support that he was paying her, claiming that she barely had enough to get by. She cried at a hearing on the motion, telling the Judge that she “can’t look the kids in the eyes when all she can afford are shoes from the Salvation Army.” Fortunately for my client, a mutual friend sent him a post that his Wife made, that was posted the day prior to the hearing. The post? A pair of high heels and a necklace laid out on her bed with the message “Love going shopping for frivolous things - $119 total at Dillard’s. Def worth the money.” Needless to say, the Wife lost her Motion.
This issue opens with Marriage, Divorce, and Social Media: A Recipe for Disaster; 10 tips on how to use social media to protect yourself during your divorce. It is followed by Social networking linked to divorce, marital unhappiness. We then conclude the issue with Social Media and How It Is Used in a Divorce Case.
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Marriage, Divorce, and Social Media: A Recipe for Disaster
10 tips on how to use social media to protect yourself during your divorce.
Ann Gold Buscho Ph.D. – Psychology Today Posted November 9, 2021
Many studies have shown that social media has a negative effect on marriage. Here are some of the research findings.
A study published in Computers in Human Behavior, found a link between social media use and decreased marriage quality in every model analyzed. The study results predict that people who do not use social media are 11 percent happier in their marriages than people that regularly use social media. (A preoccupation with social media can lead to neglect of the marital relationship.)
Many of my clients have discovered their spouses cheating on social media. According to a study by the Loyola University Health System, Facebook, with more than 2 billion users, is cited in one out of every five divorces in the United States.
And according to the AAML (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers), 81 percent of divorce attorneys report increasing numbers of spouses searching for online evidence when there are suspicions of bad behavior, infidelity, or online affairs.
Social media and how to get through your divorce
Some divorcing people take to social media to vent or rage and to seek support. Others go to social media when in pain. Then they see posts that make them believe that their spouse, and everyone else, is having a great time. (Your spouse probably does the same thing.) Don’t assume that he or she is ecstatic in life based on their Facebook posts. Those "happy" posts can increase your grief, rage, or jealousy.
1. The best advice is to stop using social media during your divorce. If you don’t post anything it won’t trigger your spouse to retaliate. If you can disconnect, you will be able to focus on your own self-care, your children, and other interests. So if you can, get off social media, at least until the divorce is over.
2. If you stay on social media, don’t post anything negative about the other parent or other family members. Don’t use social media to vent. Never post anything when you are upset. Check in with your family about this as well. They can be supportive, but they shouldn’t attack your child’s other parent. What would your children think if they saw what you, or their grandparent, wrote about their other parent? Be aware that your children can see anything you post online. They know how to access it even if you think it is private.
3. Instead, if you really want to post something, post positive images of you doing something you enjoy. Post positive affirmations. Don’t let your ex find out on Facebook or Instagram that you went on vacation with your new partner and your kids.
4. Change your privacy settings to the highest levels. Ask your friends to not tag you in their photos or posts. Even with the highest privacy settings, do not assume that what you say online is truly private. Cyber-stalking or harassing puts you at risk, so “unfriend” or block those with whom you will not be friends after the divorce. If you stay online, know who your friends are, and the people you trust. Unfriend everyone else.
5. Remove your relationship status from your “about me” on Facebook. If you want to add it back in after your divorce is final, you can do it then.
6. Don’t discuss your case online. Even if you and your spouse agree on the narrative of your divorce, and are amicable, don’t share details of your negotiations, settlements, or custody online.
7. Don't look for "dirt" about your spouse online. Some people ask friends to provide negative information about their spouse. This is sure to cause trouble. If you have complaints about your spouse, the other attorney, a mediator, evaluator or the judge, discuss them with your attorney or therapist.
8. Google yourself so you know what is out in cyberspace about you. You may be able to clean up incriminating photos or posts.
9. Don’t post intimate photos or videos from your marriage. It is illegal in many places to post intimate pictures without t he other person’s consent and knowledge.
10. Monitor your children’s social media usage. Know which platforms they use, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. Ask that they allow you to see their posts. If your children are suffering during the divorce, you will want to know what they are saying. Social media can be damaging to children through online bullying, and online predators. During your divorce, your children are especially vulnerable..
Social networking linked to divorce, marital unhappiness
PUBLISHED TUE, JUL 8 20142:10 PM EDT
UPDATED WED, JUL 9 20147:36 AM EDT
By Everett Rosenfeld for CNBC
In what may be of little surprise to avid readers of FacebookCheating.com, a new study found a correlation between social media use and divorce rates in the United States.
The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviorby researchers from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Boston University, compared state-by-state divorce rates to per-capita Facebook accounts. In a separate analysis, they also used data from a 2011-2012 survey that asked individuals about marriage quality and social media use.
Their study found a link between social media use and decreased marriage quality in every model they analyzed. They said their research did not prove that social media might be to blame for troubled marriages, but suggested such a link may be proven in subsequent studies.
“Although it may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared to other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital satisfaction, it nonetheless seems to be the case,” the authors wrote.
The state analyses found that a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrollmentwas associated with anywhere from a 2.18 percent to a 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates depending on the model used. Similarly, the model from individual survey results predicts that someone who does not use social media is over 11 percent happier in his or her marriage than a heavy social media user.
The study did not attempt to establish any causal relationship between Facebook and negative marital outcomes, but the authors did offer several explanations for why the correlation exists.
The study’s authors reasoned that individuals in problematic relationships may be turning to social media for a support system, thus explaining the link between their increased usage and marital problems. They also wrote that social networks may help reduce uncertainty for people going through a divorce by providing information on an ex-partner without forcing direct contact.
The authors also hypothesized that social media’s addictive qualities may create marital strife, promote an environment rife with opportunities for jealousy and may help facilitate extra-marital affairs.
Social Media and How It Is Used in a Divorce Case
Social media is increasingly being used in a number of different cases. It has become more common for social media information to be presented as evidence in divorce cases.
Cause for Divorce
Many studies have shown that individuals who frequently access social media sites are more likely to have conflict with their romantic partners. Likewise, these studies have demonstrated that there is a link between social media use and a decrease in people’s quality of a marriage. In many situations, focusing more on a person’s social media friends and presence can detrimentally affect a person’s real-life relationship. Some studies have shown that social media activity played a part in one out of seven divorces.
Evidence in Divorce Cases
Social media may be used as evidence in divorce cases. Sometimes it is used to demonstrate infidelity or another cause for divorce. This can be helpful when the spouse alleges specific grounds for the divorce. Additionally, some states allow evidence of infidelity to be shown in order to impact alimony. For example, some states may provide greater amounts of alimony for innocent spouses. Other states do not allow alimony if infidelity is what caused the divorce and the cheating partner would be the recipient spouse. Prenuptial agreements may call for a greater amount of alimony or may prohibit alimony in the event of infidelity.
Social media use may also be admitted for other purposes. For example, if a spouse believes that the other spouse is hiding assets and there are pictures or statements on social media that refer to these assets, the evidence may be admitted for this purpose. Additionally, evidence on social media is often admitted to show that a person is unfit as a parent. It may show the parent smoking around the children, doing drugs or drinking alcohol. It may also show the parent allowing their children to engage in risky behaviors to show that the children are not safe with the parent.
Guidelines for Social Media Usage During Divorce
Once a divorce is in pending status, spouses should expect that they will be under close personal scrutiny by their spouse and his or her lawyer. This is a common time for social media activity to be investigated.
Don’t Rely Solely on Privacy Settings
Spouses who are actively engaged in social media cannot simply rely on their privacy settings protecting them. Privacy settings are subject to change and can be difficult to manage effectively. Individuals who are going through divorce should proceed with extra caution and assume that people who they do not actually intend to see their posts will see the posts and should proceed with this assumption. Additionally, their posts may be reposted to friends’ pages and then other people can view them.
Additionally, a spouse may gain access to “private” information by duplicating a profile of a friend, using a fake profile or logging onto a friend’s social media profile. Married couples tend to have several mutual friends. During a divorce, these friends may flop sides between the parties and may reveal information that was shared in confidence.
Be Careful about What You Post
Divorcing spouses should be very mindful about what they post. Anything can be taken out of context. Additionally, this information is often discoverable during a divorce proceeding. Spouses should carefully censor what they post and avoid making any type of statement or posting any type of video or image that could be used against them. Additionally, they should ask friends and family not to post any embarrassing comments, photos or videos of them that may paint them in a negative light.
Don’t Use Social Media as a Support System
Due to the public nature of social media, it should not be used as a support system. Many online friends may not actually be that trustworthy or even close to a person and may reveal shared information to the other spouse. Spouses should avoid talking about their legal case or complaining about their spouse in such a public forum.
Limit Time on Social Media
Some divorce lawyers advise their clients to get off of social media completely during their divorce and to close their accounts as an extra precaution. Spending too much time on social media may be used against a spouse and may even lend support to rumors about cheating.
Get Legal Advice
Individuals should discuss social media use with their divorce lawyer. A lawyer can help a person understand the possible issues that social media may create during divorce proceedings.
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