June 27, 2013

6 Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media in Divorce

Categories: DivorceMental Health

Social media-dont sayNearly everyone uses some form of social media today to stay connected to family and friends.  It’s even a common experience to learn about relationship changes through a “Friend’s” updated status.  However, when it comes to divorce, connecting or staying connected with your ex-spouse is not always a good thing.  Social media adds new complexity to an already painful situation and can even complicate and potentially hinder the healing process. After ending a relationship in real life, you may also be forced to end virtual relationships with your ex-spouse and his or her social online network.

In addition to considering your “connections,” you should also be mindful of online communication.  Formats, such as Facebook or Twitter, are instant. Being measured and respectful in how you communicate about your life and your marriage transition will not only spare your spouse some embarrassment, but will also spare your friends and family from being uncomfortably included in intimate relationship details and post-split issues.

I recently read a Huffington Post article on this issue, suggesting six basic post-split guidelines. The following practical solutions were suggested:

1. Don’t stalk your ex-spouse on Facebook. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to let curiosity get the better of us. “A Brunel University study found that the more time you spend on your ex’s Facebook page post-split, the more psychological distress you will experience and the harder time you’ll have moving on. Facebook stalking was also correlated with a greater desire for one’s ex.”

2. Connect with friends and family offline. Spending face-to-face time with others is important.  Use social media to connect with friends in a healthy way “by coordinating meet-ups with close friends and fun activities with acquaintances to keep you busy and active, and make sure that you’re surrounded by a strong support system.”

3. Don’t post anything about your ex-spouse on your Facebook page. Especially something negative or accusatory. Besides inviting others into what should be a private affair, offensive updates could potentially be used against you in court. “Social media outlets have quickly become one of the biggest sources of evidence used in divorce cases.”

4.  Change passwords. If you shared these in the past with your spouse, changing passwords will ensure security and privacy going forward after your divorce.

5. Untag and delete photos.  As you come across photos of happier times, it may be difficult for you to move on. If you find yourself pining over photos of you with your ex-spouse, go back and untag or delete some of those images so that the photo section of your profile isn’t just you and your ex.

6. Lastly, cut yourself off if necessary. If you find it difficult to stop reading posts on your ex-spouse’s profile, posting updates about your divorce or viewing old photos, you may consider taking a break from Facebook to help facilitate the healing process.

Elizabeth I. WrobelABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Wrobel

Elizabeth Wrobel, JD is a partner with Wrobel & Smith, PLLP. She practices in the areas of collaborative family law and health insurance disputes. Although Elizabeth’s legal roots are in government practice, she now enjoys working directly with real people and their real-life challenges. Elizabeth’s passion for helping families is met in her collaborative law practice where she can use creative problem solving to assist families through the challenges of transition. Elizabeth understands that conflict can be expected, but how the professionals respond and guide a couple through divorce is critical in minimizing the harm.

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