Thinking of divorce? Consider taking a break from social media

From Instagram and Snapchat to YouTube and Twitter, more and more Americans are embracing social media platforms as places to express themselves, share life stories and connect with family and friends. One recent Pew Research Center study found that, of the nearly 70% of U.S. adults who have Facebook accounts, 74% visit the site every day.

With social media so intertwined with daily life, it can be easy to forget how public these spaces are. Privacy settings are not always reliable, and once you post a comment, photo or video, you may not have control over who shares it with others. If you are considering a divorce, it is important to keep in mind that your spouse’s attorney may try to use these posts against you.

Do not assume privacy settings are enough

Even if you take care to lock down privacy settings, those settings are constantly subject to change, sometimes making it difficult to manage them effectively. Additionally, even a private post could become public if a friend or family member reposts or shares it.

Avoid going online for emotional support

For many, social media sites are important places to seek support during tough times. Unfortunately, posts that you believe are in confidence may have a wider audience than you expect—especially if you have a large network of friends or followers. If you and your spouse have been together for some time, you may also have mutual friends who could pass on information, maliciously or not.

Be cautious about what you post

Always assume that anyone may be able to see what you share. During a divorce, it is especially important to avoid posting compromising photos or comments. Keep in mind that even a seemingly innocent post may paint a negative picture out of context.

Limit your social media use

Once a divorce is pending, your life may face intense scrutiny, including your online activity. Even if the court finds that your spouse is at fault, compromising social media information may work against you in reaching fair custody arrangements, property division or alimony settlements.