Social media is an ubiquitous part of daily life for most people, so much so that they may not give a second thought to the photos and status updates they post online for friends, family, or the public to view. For divorcing parents, however, social media can become a significant area of potential conflict through their own or their children’s use of various platforms. Protecting yourself and your family means it is essential to understand how social media can impact divorce proceedings and the negative impact it can have on co-parenting efforts. This is where the 230 combined-years of experience of the attorneys at Hoover Krepelka come in. We are here to assist you through the steps of:
- Parents’ Social Media and Divorce
- Children, Social Media, and Technology Use
- Social Media and Court Orders
- Family Law and Social Media FAQs
Parents’ Social Media and Divorce
Social media is popular because it can help people feel connected, but parents in the midst of a divorce need to change their perspective on what they share online. It should be assumed that anything posted to Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms will be seen by the other parent, no matter what privacy settings have been enabled on the account. Mutual acquaintances or family members can easily take screenshots of posts, which can then wind up in the hands of the other parent and their divorce lawyer. We advise clients not to post on social media at all, as it can potentially affect child support or custody orders.
Most obviously, parents should refrain from venting their negative feelings about the divorce and their former partner online. A frustrated rant or disparaging comments will, at minimum, increase tension and could be used to support allegations of defamation or parental alienation. However, even posts that seem to be unrelated to the divorce can be used against the poster.
For example, times, dates, and location stamps can be used to determine when a parent or child was in a particular place, possibly in violation of a court order. Photos of lavish vacations or expensive belongings can prompt an investigation for hidden assets if the poster is simultaneously claiming to be unable to pay child or spousal support. And in child custody cases, the other parent could use a variety of information to allege unfit parenting, such as complaints about caring for or disciplining the kids, photos of a messy home, or posts that refer to alcohol use.
Children, Social Media, and Technology Use
Friction can also arise when parents are deciding on when and how their children can access social media and technology in general. Issues on which opinions often differ include:
- Limits on screen time
- At what age certain devices such as cell phones can be used
- At what age children can join social media platforms, and which ones are permitted
- Whether parental controls will be enabled
- Whether children are required to share passwords with parents
In an ideal world, co-parents would be able to agree on a parenting plan that keeps rules consistent across both households. In practice, it’s rare for couples to fully see eye to eye. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian provided an extreme example in their public disagreement over daughter North West (then 8) being allowed on TikTok. West took to Instagram to criticize Kardashian for creating an account she supervised for North without apparently consulting him. (West also notoriously made a habit of lashing out at Kardashian over her parenting and personal life on social media.)
Rather than making unilateral decisions that inflame already tense situations, parents should frankly discuss rules for social media usage by children with the kids’ best interests in mind. However, obtaining a court order that enforces specific provisions may be necessary if one parent refuses to set reasonable limits to protect the children’s safety and well-being.
Social Media and Court Orders
When there are rules or provisions in a court order that limit the use of social media for certain activities, such as prohibiting posting about the other party or putting pictures of the children online, there can be serious repercussions if they are not followed. When hockey player Evander Kane and wife Anna Kane split, she repeatedly violated a court order to not post anything on social media regarding her former husband. Far from supporting her case to regain custody of their daughter, her online attempts to cast her ex in a bad light hurt her own cause. In short, whether a parent agrees with court-ordered rules or not, they must be adhered to.
Navigating Social Media and Divorce
Missteps around social media can be damaging in family law cases. If you’re uncertain of how to navigate social media and divorce, turn to the experts at Hoover Krepelka for help.
Contact us today by filling out the form below to schedule a meeting with an attorney.
While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer.
Family Law and Social Media FAQs
Q: Can my ex-partner use my social media posts against me in court during divorce proceedings?
A: Yes, your ex-partner may use your social media posts as evidence during divorce proceedings. Content that contradicts statements made in court or affects your credibility may be presented as evidence.
Q: Can the difference in social media usage between parents affect divorce cases and custody decisions?
A: Yes, the difference in social media usage between parents can potentially affect divorce cases and custody decisions. If one parent demonstrates responsible and appropriate social media usage while the other engages in questionable behavior online, it may impact the court’s perception of each parent’s ability to prioritize the well-being of the child.
Q: Should I change my privacy settings on social media during a divorce?
A: Adjusting your privacy settings is a wise step during a divorce. However, remember that even private posts can be shared by others, so exercise caution in all online interactions.