A staggering 42% of the global population use social media. In today's world, we often turn to social media to have our say, show off our exciting personal news or simply to keep up with the latest Love Island scandal...or BBC news - it depends which way you're inclined.

But if you find yourself divorcing, separating or in dispute about your children - who exactly has access to your social media information and what can you do to protect yourself from online backlash? Solicitors, financial advisors, spouses, ex-spouses, new partners, friends, family, private investigators, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and even potentially your children may view your social media accounts.

But what are they looking for?

In short, anything you post or someone else posts on social media (even if the post is well intentioned) could be used against you. Whilst it may feel good to rant, the internet is not the appropriate forum. It is important not to post something which you may later regret or contradicts what you might say in a legal context. With every post, the best advice is to think first about how and whether the post could be viewed in a different and negative light. It is also important to think carefully about what you put on social media when it comes to children, both when it comes to viewing things through the eyes of a separated parent and also in terms of keeping children safe. It is widely accepted that separation is a difficult process, but voice your feelings in a safe, private environment with family, friends or a counsellor.

Here are our top tips for staying safe online in the event of a divorce or when it comes to children of separated parents: -

  • Change your passwords. Not just for your social media accounts but for any online account that your spouse or former partner may have access to.
  • Review your privacy settings. Consider who can see your posts and what devices are recorded as "logged in". If you notice any devices which are unusual, report them using the appropriate channels. Remember not every online friend is necessarily a real-life friend. If things are difficult between you and your spouse, remove or block them from social media. You can always add them again later if relations improve.
  • Before you post on social media, stop and think. Don't be impulsive. Avoid over sharing - whilst it may be tempting to share screen shots of the court papers or messages sent by a spouse - don't do it. Once a post is online, you may never be able to take back what has been said, even if the post is later deleted.
  • If you enter into a new relationship prior to your divorce being finalised, don't make it 'Facebook official'. Doing so will only heighten emotions and acrimony between you and your ex. If your children are using social media, it may cause them embarrassment and upset. Just wait.
  • Speak to your friends and family and ask them to be careful about what they post online. Any unguarded comments or posts you are "tagged in" could be used against you.
  • Refrain from posting pictures of your children online. Even the best intentioned, most innocent of photos can be used to criticise your parenting skills or capabilities.
  • You can use all the emojis you like, but often tone is lost or misconstrued online. Be conscious of this.

Resist temptation. Whilst it may be tempting to "hack" into a spouse's account to see what they have been up to or to try to obtain "evidence" - don't do it! To most of us, our social media accounts are simply an extension of ourselves and need almost constant monitoring. Despite that, seriously consider if you can take a break and de-activate your account for a while. Not only can this avoid any 'heat of the moment' posts, it is likely to help both emotionally and mentally.

For more information on any family law issue please contact the Brodies family law team by email or telephone and we would be pleased to assist.


Kate Bradbury