People who were getting divorced in the 1980s would tell their friends and family in person, on the phone, or in letters. The 1990s brought us email as a convenient way to spread important personal news. Today, we have social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Social media gives us a wider audience than ever before to hear us give our side of the story regarding matters like divorce and child custody disputes.

When you are feeling sad about your divorce, or angry at something your ex has done, it is tempting to post about it online. In the moment, it can feel satisfying to “get” your ex this way. But the brief outlet for your negative emotions often is not worth the long-term consequences.

Whatever you put online is essentially there forever. You might write a post or upload a photo and delete it later, but if your ex and their divorce attorney is monitoring you social media accounts, it could be too late. If you say something extreme about your ex, or post something suggesting you are improperly spending community assets on yourself, that post could easily come back to haunt you in settlement talks or before the judge.

California woman charged with ‘harassing’ her husband online

In an extreme case, your online activity related to your divorce could lead to criminal charges. That isn’t likely, but it did happen to a Marin County woman. In a series of online “articles and recordings,” the woman accused her husband of domestic violence. She made these materials available while their divorce was still ongoing, leading her husband to request a restraining order against her to force her to stop. The judge issued the order, calling her posts “harassment” and threatening to charge the wife with a crime if she violated the order.

The wife did not stop accusing her husband of domestic violence online, and in December 2019, the district attorney’s office charged her with violating the order. Fortunately for her, the woman’s defense attorney convinced a different judge to dismiss the charges. The judge said the first judge violated the woman’s First Amendment rights by issuing the restraining order.

Be careful about what you share

While you have the First Amendment right to talk about your spouse and your divorce case online, we suggest you proceed with caution. Not because you will be charged with a crime, but because what you say could cost you in property division or child custody arrangements. Your divorce attorney can help advise you on what is safe to share online, and what should be kept to a limited circle of close friends and family members.