Connecting with friends and family online has been a great help in coping with the impact of the isolation brought on by the pandemic. However, those who file for divorce need to be extremely careful about what they post until they finalize the paperwork.
This may run counter to the need to vent if a couple is still cohabitating, but attorneys and even judges are increasingly scrutinizing a spouse’s Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter account, and other social media platforms and dating sites during the information gathering process.
Err on the side of discretion
Michiganders do not have to prove fault in divorce, but a spouse’s behavior can impact such important matters as custody, division of assets and support. While these actions may seem like no big deal, it is best for those who file to avoid posting:
- Announcement of the split: Unless the couple is having a divorce party, it is best not to announce the divorce online or, worse, citing a spouse’s character flaws as the cause for the split.
- Photos of social gatherings: A night out with friends is time well spent, but pictures of you or friends appearing intoxicated can give the impression of an unreliable parent or one who is inattentive to the children’s needs. If necessary, avoid being in photos and ask friends to take down any photos where you are tagged.
- Fancy trips: A photo of a trip to the family cottage is fine, but expensive trips to Mexico can provide contrary evidence if the spouses are arguing about money. Also, couples often need to avoid any unusual spending during the discovery process.
- Dating platforms: Profiles on dating sites should wait until after signing the divorce papers.
- Digital stalking: It may be tempting to access phone records, home security systems, or even Netflix or OpenTable. Any information gathered will not reflect well on the amateur sleuth.
Same mistake in the new era
Much of this information is a digital update of information that attorneys have told clients for decades. Unfortunately, due to the ease of finding this information on the internet, it makes it all the more important to be careful and cautious.