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How Social Media Helps — and Hurts — Your Divorce

July 25, 2014

Interface Member

We educate, empower and support women before, during and after divorce.

ThinkFinancially.com

Over the years, social media has grown from online whimsy to, for many of us, virtual necessity. We want our updated professional information on LinkedIn, in case anyone is considering our qualifications for a dream job. We want our Facebook and Twitter accounts to have as many friends and followers as possible. It’s good for our businesses for obvious reasons, and it’s good for our personal lives to foster connectedness with friends near and far. Sometimes, though, all that connectedness can do more harm than good. 

Like many, you and your husband have probably used social media to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from days gone by. Facebook is particularly good for those “whatever happened to” questions. It’s tempting to find former sweethearts, and see what their lives are like after all these years. “I see you got married.” “Yes, thirteen years now,” comes the reply. Then, “But marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, LOL. How ‘bout you?”

And so, sometimes, begins trouble. While it’s a stretch to say that Facebook is single-handedly destroying marriages, there are plenty of stories about affairs that began on social media. One recent study even shows a correlation between social media use and divorce rates

Whether or not social media contributed to the demise of your marriage, it can play a significant role in your divorce. However, you have to think of it as a sword that cuts both ways.

Social Media Can Work for You in Divorce If…
Let me first say that I’m in no way suggesting you snoop into your husband’s email, texts or social media accounts. Privacy and wiretapping laws about these things differ from state-to-state, are notoriously convoluted, and you don’t want to run afoul of them. When in doubt, consult with your attorney. 

That said, there are worlds of information to be gleaned from your husband’s public social media presence, with no password necessary... and even if he blocks you. I’ve had clients report information on their estranged husbands financial activities as relayed to them by mutual friends who were still following his Facebook updates.

What kind of information can be gleaned? Perhaps there may be clues that your husband is hiding assets. Are there pictures of a recent golf weekend? Did his girlfriend Tweet delight with an expensive new gift? It’s peculiar timing for these things, if he just told the court he’s broke. 

Even when they think they’re being savvy about it, most people leave a trail of breadcrumbs in their online social behavior. And even if they are super-careful, odds are good that their friends are making mistakes too. It might be easy to catch your husband in a lie if he forgets to turn off his social media apps’ location notification (did he say he was on business in Houston… while FourSquare shows him at a premier New York hotel?) or if his friends post without thinking or tag him in a photo. 

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Tagged in: experts, Jeffrey Landers
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