Let’s face it: Social media has become our new national pastime. The average person probably checks Facebook more often than the weather. We keep up to date with friends and acquaintances from every facet of our lives and, as a result, have never been so tightly woven into our community fabric as we are today. It can be a great thing.

Until it isn’t.

We carefully cultivate our social media personas to reflect the best version of ourselves. And then, secretly, we compare our reality against lives of friends on social media networks, like Facebook, who are doing the exact same thing. We become discontented. We root out details and secrets that we were never intended to see. We use the ability to broadcast our thoughts to hurt one another.

Researchers writing for the journal Computers in Human Behavior recently published statistics that reveal that for every 20% increase in the share of a state’s population using Facebook, the divorce rate increases 2.18%. On top of that, their research showed that people who spent more time on social media networks tended to be less happy in their marriages.

It is hard to say whether couples experience discord because of Facebook activity or engage in Facebook activity because of discord. But, the connection is undeniable – what happens on Facebook does not necessarily stay there. It has the ability to impact our lives, the way we feel about ourselves, and the choices we make. For that reason, it is especially important during a divorce, when we are already dealing with difficult decisions and emotions, to be mindful of how we are using social media, being careful not to inflict more damage on ourselves and others than necessary.

Traditional wisdom among family law attorneys says to protect yourself by not posting to Facebook, and even culling out of your past Facebook feed, anything that might even marginally be perceived to give information about parenting, lifestyle, or finances – lest it be used against us in a court of law. Mediated divorces, such as those Wevorce facilitates, do not provide a forum for social media details to be exploited like they would in a court room. But, the ways in which we use social media during a divorce can be impactful all the same.

Even in amicable divorces, a conversation should be had around the message and uses the couple will make of social media to minimize injury and maximize the positive uses of Facebook and other social media sites as forums for support, sharing, and beneficial communication. Here are a few helpful steps for evaluating your Facebook strategy during and after a divorce:

Step 1: Us

How do we define our connection on Facebook?

The Total Block

Definition: To “unfriend” and cut off all communication; to disappear.

Best for: Couples with a tendency to abuse facebook privileges by cyber-stalking or harassing.

The Un-Friend

Definition: To deny access to your information beyond what is generally public.

Best for: Couples capable of civility who have no vested interest in staying friends after the divorce.

The Un-Follow

Definition: To stop receiving automatic status updates in your news feed.

Best for: Couples with a reason, like kids, to keep in touch or stay accountable.

Step 2: Them

Who are my Facebook friends?

Keep: Family

Your Friends

Joint Friends You Trust

Lose: Everyone Else

Step 3: Me

What is appropriate Facebook divorce etiquette?

Your Posts Should Be:

Positive: Lambasting your ex in front of the world only makes you look bad… even when you disguise it with lyrics from a country song.

Rational: Take a deep breath. If you’re crying, seething, drinking, or yelling – DON’T POST.

Unsurprising: Don’t let Facebook be the way your ex finds out you took your new flame on vacation with the kids. Heads up are nice.

Timely: Don’t change your relationship status until you are really divorced. Better yet, remove it altogether.

Selective: The details of your divorce belong to both of you. Agree on what you’re saying to whom based on how it will affect you and your family going forward.

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