With more than 3.84 billion people across the world using social media, in the event that you find yourself divorcing or in dispute about your children - who exactly has access to your information and what can you do to protect your social media accounts?
Lawyers, spouses, friends, family, ex-spouses, new partners, 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. It is important not to post something which you may later regret or contradicts what you might then say in a legal context. With every post, the best advice is to think first about how each post will be viewed in a different 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 view things through the eyes of a separated parent and also in terms of keeping children safe.
Here are our top tips for staying safe online in the event of a divorce or when it comes to children of separated parents:-
- In the event of separation, 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 these 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 things improve.
- Before you post on social media, stop and take a moment. Avoid over sharing, whilst it might be tempting to share screen shots of the court papers, or messages sent by a spouse - don't do it. Once a post is on social media, you may never be able to take it back even if the post is later deleted.
- 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 in relation to your behaviour or parenting habits even if that is not a reflection of the true picture.
- Remember a picture may be worth more than a thousand words and whilst a picture may be entirely innocent to you, it could be interpreted by someone else to be something it is not.
- Resist temptation. Whilst it may be tempting to "hack" into a spouses account to see what they have been up to or to try to obtain "evidence" - don't do it!
- Whilst you might feel like you can't live without social media, seriously consider if you can take a break and shut down your account for a while. Not only can this avoid any unguarded comments or heat of the moment posts, it is likely to help emotionally.
For more information on any family law issue please send us an email or give us a phone and we would be pleased to assist.