Facebook and divorce: The right to remain silent?

If you are in the midst of a divorce, or are seriously considering filing for divorce, you should take a moment and reconsider your relationship with some of your friends. Especially your relationship with Facebook, as it may not prove to be much a friend during your divorce.

For many people, Facebook and other types of social media, such as Twitter, are an essential part of keeping up with and communicating with friends and family. You post important information and pictures, view posts from your friends, and use it as a means of tying together that sometimes far-flung network of people who are important to us.

But you also do something else. You create a record. A rather indelible record. Unlike a letter, where the time it takes to draft, and possibly revise, generally leaves you with a more thoughtful document, one that you can always decide not to send.

The immediacy of social media produces an unedited version of everything.

You Have The Right To Remain Silent

In a criminal trial, because you have the entire machinery of the State posed against you, you are granted the right to remain silent. This prevents you from mistakenly making statements that can be taken out of context and leave a judge or jury with the impression that you are guilty.

Divorce is a civil proceeding, and there is no right to remain silent; however, you may want to remember that line from the Miranda warning about “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Only think of it this way, “Anything you post on Facebook can and will be used against you in a divorce court.” A stupid post or tweet, made when you are upset, takes on a life of its own, and once the genie is out of the bottle, you may never be able to get it back in.

The danger that lies in Facebook and other social media is that of the inadvertent consequences of an ill-thought-out post. You may upload a picture or write about some event, dinner, vacation or party you attended, and not realize how it may look in six months.

If something embarrassing happened, if you were with someone, you have now created a permanent record. And no matter what your privacy setting, if it is important and damaging, the other side will find out. No matter what, they will.

Something as innocent as pictures from a vacation or fancy dinner with your new “friend” could later be used to damage your credibility when it comes to issues of support, child custody or the division of marital property. It becomes difficult to claim poverty when there are pictures from an expensive resort or a trendy restaurant.

If you feel you must maintain your social media presence during a divorce, take a moment before you post to consider how it would look projected on a screen in a large font and imagine what a judge might be thinking as he or she reads it.