We live in an age of social media. Almost everyone that you know is connected to social media through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or one of the numerous other social media platforms. People use their social media connections sometimes to inappropriately air their disputes in public or to attempt to gain some type of revenge on other people. We are well familiar with celebrities having to deal with revenge postings or the attempts to shame their ex via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites. Here in Southeast Florida, the KVJ show on a local radio station conducts a weekly feature entitled: “Facebook Fishing”. This is a weekly bit where the radio host dramatizes disputes aired on Facebook by individuals seeking sympathy and/or attention which quickly deteriorate into name calling and bashing on a public forum.
Consequently, it’s not surprising that if a couple is having this particularly dispute, that they may start airing that dispute and grievances during their divorce and subsequent to their divorce on social media and the internet. The exposure of “dirty secrets” and your grievances (real or imagined) often result in even more fighting, litigation, and loss of social connections with their friends with whom they are connected on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and etc. These social media disputes are even more damaging when children are involved. As we have come to know in today’s culture, kids know far more about the internet and social media than adults know. Your children will discover your social media exposés and arguments as will your children’s friends, teachers, coaches and other adults connected with their lives. Because of this increasing trend of fighting between exes in the “public court of opinion” on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites, many attorneys are now beginning to include social media clauses in their prenuptial contracts and their marital settlement agreements.
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The clause for social media contains various restrictions for each couple regarding posting on social media sites. In the clause, each party agrees not to: post, tweet, or otherwise share via social media, positive, negative, insulting, embarrassing, flattering or unflattering images or information about the other. They will also contain restrictions on certain materials, photographs and any information regarding the divorce, the previous marriage, anything regarding your spouse’s/ex’s business, professional life, employment, or social life. These agreements are crafted to completely render a person’s social media life separate from their divorce/previous marriage circumstances.
This social media clause can include a restriction against even positive posting to keep people from defending themselves by saying: “Oh, I thought you looked good in that photo, that’s why I shared that photo”. Consequently, the clauses should be broad enough so that they include any type of posting by one ex concerning the other on social media or the internet.
If someone breaks a social media clause, the sanctions will be a “specific monetary penalty”. This penalty for violating a clause can be any specific amount of money that both parties agree upon. Make sure that this “monetary penalty” is sufficiently high enough to deter your spouse or ex from seeking vengeance against you. Consequently, make sure that the penalty clause is robust in amount and that it is unambiguously phrased. In doing so, you can prevent not only your reputation from being damaged but also any agreement about whether or not comments and social media platforms will fall under the clause.
We are in an ever changing age regarding social media. Consequently, individuals need to protect their reputations on all forms of social media not only during, but after, their divorces. As a result, even if your attorney does not mention a social media clause during the course of your divorce, make sure that you discuss that issue with your attorney.