Levine & Levine
Serving Kalamazoo, Southwest Michigan and Nationwide
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Your Online Presence During Divorce

profileSoon after Levine & Levine family law attorneys establish attorney-client relationships with new clients, we commonly engage in a basic online search for information about the other parties involved. If we are doing it, then other attorneys are probably also doing it. Individuals' failures to take advantage of privacy settings on Facebook, or other social media sites, can create a treasure trove of information. To insure our clients' online presence does not become a presence during divorce actions, we commonly offer the following tips.

1) Loose lips sink ships. If you are spouting hate speech about your soon-to-be-ex, or adding satirical hash tags to photos of them, you should expect your words to be thrown back at you during the divorce action. These online comments can be used as evidence of either an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith, or an unwillingness to facilitate a relationship between your children and your spouse. Venting is cathartic, but doing it online is not necessary. Find a trusted friend who you can talk with, and trust that (eventually) your awful-good-for-nothing-spouse will either be out of your life forever, or, if you have children, will learn how to co-parent with you.

2) Photos are worth a thousand words. That photo of you, with your baby on your lap, at a table with beer bottles on it will haunt you, even if your BFF is willing to testify that you were not drinking. How about the photo of you out with your girlfriends at a concert when your kids are with their dad? You certainly look like a party girl. What about the selfie with your new love? It better be after the divorce, and there better not be multiple new partners. Be selective in what you to the photos you place on Facebook or Instagram. Don't just check the photo to see if you look your personal best, but look closely at your surroundings. Is it something your great-grandmother would think is nice? Or is it something that sends the wrong message about you? While rarely legally significant, too many sexy or suggestive photos can hurt your credibility when alimony,, parenting time, custody, and property issues are decided.

3) Friends forever. No one is expecting you to dismantle your Facebook account, which you have nurtured for years, just because of a divorce. But you should be sure to maximize the privacy settings so that only friends (and not friends of friends) are able to review your posts, or repost your posts. If you have friends in common with your spouse (whether it be relatives or actual friends), you have to make the decision to either unfriend all of them, or keep them as friends and refrain from damaging behavior. If you have children, and if your spouse's relatives are your Facebook friends, then you may damage your children's relationships with them if you cut them out. Your divorce from your spouse does not have to result in the divorce of your children from their aunts and uncles. However, if you are genuinely having difficulty keeping a lid on your comments, or sharing of salacious news stories, then it may be advisable to use Facebook's privacy settings for every post, thin out your group of friends, or , deactivate your account altogether.

4) Pseudonyms and secondary accounts. You are not fooling anyone by creating a second social media account. Unless you are a master of computer technology, expect that everything can be traced back to the real you.

5) Tinder, Ashley Madison, Match, and More. Yes, Michigan is a 'no fault divorce' state. This simply means that you do not need specific fault-based grounds to get a divorce. Fault that leads to the breakdown of the marriage, like infidelity and other questionable behavior, is very much a consideration for property division, spousal support, and custody. Keep that in mind before you login to any of the online dating or casual encounter websites. If your true love is not your spouse, and if your true love is out there, he or she will still be out there in a few months, when your divorce is finalized.

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