One of the first things we advise our divorce clients to do is to avoid discussing their case on social media. If you are feeling frustrated, frightened or angry at your ex, it is tempting in the moment to log onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to let everyone know about it. But what can feel like blowing off steam or sweet revenge can hurt your case long-term.
Your ex and their attorney are likely monitoring your social media. Anything you post online could be used as evidence against you. For example, if you post a message, picture or video that could be interpreted as a threat, your ex could claim the post is evidence that you are an unfit parent and should not share custody of the children. Or say you post pictures and video of yourself on vacation. Your ex could try to claim that you are hiding community property from them and spending it on yourself.
California family court judges do not typically impose gag orders on spouses during divorce proceedings. However, a ruling by another state’s supreme court refutes the idea that judges there have that power at all.
Children’s feelings vs. freedom of speech
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled against the use of non-disparagement orders, a type of gag order imposed on parties to divorce cases in that state. Among other things, the orders frequently ban the parties from posting about their divorce on social media. Up until now, the judge could find a party who violates the order in contempt of court and subject to serious penalties.
The court found that to violate individuals’ right to free speech. While the justices recognized the harm that children could suffer if they read their parents using nasty or abusive language toward each other, they ruled that the state’s interest in preventing that harm is not enough to meet the “heavy burden” it must overcome to limit free speech.
Be cautious about your social media
Again, just because you can share details of your divorce on social media, does not mean you should. One of the jobs of your divorce lawyer is to explain to you how to avoid common mistakes that can drag out the process or leave you with a worse deal than you would otherwise receive.