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Be thoughtful about social media posting during divorce

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As Chicago readers may know, Illinois follows the no-fault doctrine for dissolution of marriages. Under the no-fault rules, a spouse seeking a divorce is not required to prove that the other spouse committed some form of marital misconduct, such as adultery, abuse or addictive behavior. Nonetheless, divorcing spouses often find it difficult to refrain from finger-pointing and name-calling in the emotional roller coaster that may accompany the end of a marriage.

A certain amount of blame sharing may be warranted, and perhaps even a bit therapeutic, but reckless spouse-bashing can have unintended consequences. The prominence of social media as an outlet for personal expression makes it all the more important to exercise self-restraint when it comes to casting aspersions about a future ex. A jibe among friends might be anticipated to remain among friends, but social media offers no such expectations of privacy. A careless post on Facebook or Twitter may come back to haunt the writer.

Consider the fact that a negative post may affect your spouse's employment opportunities. If you are anticipating alimony or child support to help maintain your standard of living post-divorce, you may be shooting yourself in the foot by trashing your spouse's character or work ethic.

Remember that what you post will be viewed as a reflection of your character. Vicious or vulgar attacks against a spouse could be turned against you in disputes over child custody and visitation.

On the other side of the coin, be careful not to post anything about your own life that undercuts your own claims. If you are claiming financial inability to pay alimony or child support, you may want to avoid posting about lavish expenditures on personal luxuries.

Finally, bear in mind that posting harmful lies, whether in the context of a divorce or otherwise, can amount to libel that may leave you vulnerable to a separate civil lawsuit and a claim for damages. In egregious cases, verbal attacks can amount to harassment that may lead to a restraining order.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Your Money: Trashing your ex on Facebook may cost you," Geoff Williams, Aug. 22, 2012

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