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What’s Mine and Yours is Not for the World

Benjamin N. Neece, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

               In 2017, communities exist both in the physical and virtual world. Whether you call a metropolis like Greensboro, or a small town such as Asheboro, home, there exist reasonable limits to the extent you will interact with certain individuals, the peer groups you will associate with, and how information will be transmitted. In the virtual world, those limitations are effectively eliminated and with that, an increased risk when it comes to revealing what would otherwise remain personal information. It is important for clients to understand the dangers that exist in regards to their cases when maintaining an active social media presence.

A divorce is probably one of the most difficult and emotional experiences may experience. There will be times when emotions may get the best of an individual, and there seems to be no way to express yourself and attain the peace that you seek, and often individuals may resort to releasing their emotions over social media. Whatever the reason, using this medium to obtain peace of mind during this time can be very damaging to your case and reduce your chance of success at the conclusion of the process. A common theme amongst social media outbursts results in revealing too much information.

Revealing information may be intentional or unintentional, which is why it is very important to make sure you are consciously thinking about how the information you release is perceived by not only a casual bystander but by your estranged spouse and their legal counsel. People are attracted to drama, and if you are the source, then it can lead to more eyes beholding what you have released which lead to a wider dissemination of this information. Additionally, what you may think is harmless may be easily manipulated by a trained professional to paint a picture you never intended to portray. A great way to avoid this risk is to limit the amount of information you put out there; controlling the narrative is an essential part of any legal proceeding, especially in divorce.

               Along the same lines as revealing too much, the risk of sharing incriminating information is ever present with respect to your online existence. With baseball season just around the corner, downtown Greensboro will be as hopping as ever with our hometown team in full swing. You decide to go to a ball game with some friends you haven’t seen in forever; you enjoy a couple of adult beverages, some photos are taken and subsequently posted on social media. Social media information such as this is discoverable and could potentially be used to portray you in an unfavorable light. Using this information may seem drastic, even manipulative, but that is a reality many litigants face. Information of all kinds is used for purposes never intended for, and it is important to practice strict self-censoring and keep as low a social media profile as possible. It is not to say you don’t deserve to have fun without fear of harming your case, but it is essential to control the narrative as much as possible.

Last but not least, it is vitally important to avoid “defaming” your estranged spouse through social media outlets during the divorce proceedings. Defamation can become a large issue when individuals start revealing personal information, true or false, about their estranged spouses on social media. Coming out on top in the eyes of your peers and public perception will do little to help soothe the wounds of losing in the courtroom. Throughout the course of your divorce proceedings, it is best to live by the mantra, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.”