It seems like, at some point or another, I’ve run across an issue related to almost every social media platform. It’s a little frustrating, sometimes, because, at some point, a person made the decision to post, share, pin, or tweet something that they didn’t HAVE to post, share, pin, or tweet, and now it’s an issue. I mean, it’s not like social media is ever a life or death situation where you HAD to share something. It’s a choice, and it’s a choice that often creates problems in the family law context.
Sure, I get it. I have social media accounts, too. I’ve had Facebook since college, back when you could only get a Facebook account if you had a .edu email address! (Remember those days?) I share things, too. I’m pretty selective about it, but I do share. Just like you, and pretty much everyone else in the world who is under 80 – and some who are over 80.
It’s frustrating when it becomes an unnecessary problem, and I have devoted a pretty significant amount of time to trying to educate women about what kinds of problems they can run into when social media and divorce collide. (If you haven’t already, request a copy of my free report on problems associated with social media and divorce.) It’s easy to think that what you’re doing online – especially on some of the lesser known or less social platforms – is more or less secret. But that’s rarely the case, and I’ve definitely had my share of cases where these things rear their nasty little heads in unexpected ways.
Sometimes, I could’ve told a woman that her actions would have these consequences. In other cases, though, I’m as surprised as the client. I recently came across a situation in a case of mine related to Pinterest secret boards, though – so I thought I’d share. Hey, you learn something new every day, right?
Pinterest and Divorce
Typically, Pinterest isn’t a big deal. If you’re just using it to share workout inspiration, view the latest fashion trends, or follow the British Royal Family (come on, guys, it can’t just be me!), you won’t have issues with your divorce – at least, as of right this minute, I don’t see how you could.
But there are also other things you can share – things about how to save your marriage, how to get a divorce, dealing with husbands who are narcissists/bipolar/suffering from drug alcohol addiction, etc. At face-value, probably at worst these boards would clue him in to what you’re thinking – and it really depends on the case how problematic that would be.
Problems almost always arise in the context of either support or custody. Those are probably our most contentious and difficult issues, and that’s where problems tend to arise.
I think probably the biggest issue I could see for spousal support would be if Pinterest is where your husband can see that you’ve reconnected with an old flame or are sharing articles or posts between each other. Depending on what those posts might be, they might be more or less incriminating.
Remember that adultery is grounds for an immediate divorce in Virginia (which mostly just means that it will cost a WHOLE LOT MORE), plus it’s also an absolute bar to spousal support (assuming, of course, that you would’ve been entitled to receive it in the first place). Though just having a connection with an old (or new) flame on Pinterest isn’t enough to prove adultery, depending on what information your husband finds there, it might be enough for him to either file for divorce using that information, or else just make life a whole lot messier. Either way, it’s not ideal.
Custody and Visitation
Custody and visitation is always a wildcard. In the Pinterest context, I’m mostly concerned that you’d either share something that shows or suggests that you’re maybe not a fit custodian (imagine, if you pinned an article entitled, “How to beat a breathalyzer 101” or something awful like that), and/or that your children are following what you post.
It’s always an issue if your kids are following you and everything you post isn’t on the up and up. If I had a nickel for every time I heard that a kid found out about a dad’s new girlfriend because of a post on Facebook, I’d have…well, probably twenty five cents, but still.
Moral of the story: be careful what you post, especially if what you’re posting is something that you wouldn’t want the judge to see in your custody trial.
Pinterest Secret Boards
On Pinterest, you can post things – as far as I can tell, at least – privately and confidentially by starting a secret board. If you want to share with anyone, you can invite “collaborators” to participate. Otherwise, you can’t find it on the network – it won’t even show that your pin came from somewhere else, or notify the person who originally pinned it that you pinned it, too.
So, should that be secure enough? It should be! Assuming that you keep it private, as in limited to only you, or friends you really, really trust.
Actually, maybe just you. Because I have also had problems with friends telling husbands what their wives have posted. Why? I couldn’t tell you. Probably for both good reasons and bad. Sometimes, it’s a legitimate effort to help fix the marriage; other times, I suspect that there’s a frenemy in the midst.
So, I’m okay if I just post to secret boards?
Well, no. Actually, I think the safest thing to do is not post at all, especially while your case is in full swing.
But is that realistic? Chances are you’ll probably post – it’s a reality of modern life. So, just be careful, be hyper aware of what you’re sharing where and who can likely see what you post, and never post anything (yes, even as a joke!) that would reflect poorly on you. Imagine your post being read out loud in a courtroom by an unsympathetic judge BEFORE you post. If it’s all baking cookies for the kids and “I’m a great mom and an upstanding citizen”, well, post if you must. (It’s still better to NOT post.) If it isn’t, though – if it’s you holding a shot glass, or you sharing things with your new boyfriend, or whatever else it could be – please, please, please, don’t share. Or, if you do anyway, make an additional payment to your trust account with your attorney’s office – you’ll likely need it.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation with a licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorney, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.