The Complete Guide to Divorce & Social Media

About Brette Sember, JD |

By Brette Sember, JD Updated Feb 09, 2024


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Relationships have always been challenging to maintain.

Relationships have always been challenging to maintain. However, with the introduction of social media networks, they became even more challenging to keep together.

Little things that might have passed unnoticed between a couple in the past now sit on servers preserving themselves in pixels on Facebook or Instagram accounts for spousal discovery—creating little distances and, sometimes, damaging the relationship's bond.

Social media usage has had a significant effect when it comes to relationships ending in divorce. Nearly all people under the age of 49 have social media accounts where they spend a lot of time.

The presence of one's online feeds can feel like the third entity in the marriage. Not surprisingly, social media posts often create distance in a relationship, hurt feelings, jealousy, and even infidelity.

Social media may not only contribute to the reason for your divorce, but it can actually play a role in the divorce process itself.

A post of intimate pictures or one that has negative information about the other spouse can affect divorce negotiations, impact custody, and have long-lasting effects. What you post is what people see—including your spouse's divorce attorney.

Let's take a closer look at divorce and social media networks.

Relationships have always been challenging to maintain.

Social Media and Divorce Statistics

It is clear that increased engagement with social media networks and the risk of divorce—or at least marital strife—are correlated. For example, consider the following social media usage and marital dissatisfaction statistics:

  • 72% of adults in the U.S. have a social media account they say they are active on. PEW Research Center reports 84% of younger adults, 18-29, and 81% of adults 30-49 are active on a social media account.
  • Facebook and YouTube are the two most popular social media sites for U.S. adults at 69% and 81%, respectively.
  • When Facebook enrollment increases by 20%, the state's divorce rate increases by 2.18 to 4.32 percent.
  • A study out of Houston reported that the more a social media network had a presence in an individual's life, the more dissatisfied with their relationship the person reported feeling.
  • The Guardian reported that the GlobalWebIndex research indicates that 30% of Tinder's 75 million monthly active users (around 22.5 million) are married.
  • In a survey of 2,000 married Brits, one in seven considered divorce because of their spouse's activity on social media networks.
  • A study of U.S. social media users found that increased social media usage correlates with decreasing happiness and satisfaction with marriage and increasing marital strife and divorce contemplation.
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How Does Social Media Lead to Divorce?

The numbers show that social media usage is widespread. But, unfortunately, they also reveal that social media networks are not doing marriages any favors.

There are several ways that social media usage can lead to divorce:

  1. Creating addictive or compulsive behavior
  2. Paling by comparison
  3. Disclosing otherwise private things publicly
  4. Connecting with exes
  5. Facilitating confirmation behavior
  6. Bolstering one's courage
  7. Facilitating online infidelity

Creating addictive or compulsive behavior

When people constantly interact with their online connections, in-person connections can suffer. Also, excessive engagement with social media can lead to negative feelings, social distance from a spouse, and work challenges.

The stress and negativity wear on marriage and lead to problems in the relationship, fights, and, in some cases, divorce.

Paling by comparison

Several studies have revealed that what people see on social media makes them feel bad about their lives by comparison.

One Pew Research study showed that the number of people who had symptoms of major depression increased by 52% in teens and 63% in young adults over the years when smartphone ownership became prevalent among this group.

These negative influences can also affect relationship satisfaction.

For example, if a person sees another couple's trip or another person's gift from their spouse, it might also lead to a feeling that one's partner isn't putting in the same amount of effort as they see online, leading to dissatisfaction in the relationship.

Disclosing otherwise private things publicly

Many spouses do not like that their partner has put personal information about their relationship online, even when that information is not especially sensitive or embarrassing. Having that information released without consent crosses an essential boundary of the relationship. This loss of privacy leads to conflict in the marriage and an erosion of trust.

Connecting with exes

Social media networks present an excellent opportunity to feel connected to people you have known throughout your life.

However, it also means you can reconnect with people who were once a significant part of your life—and that often doesn't go over well with your current significant other.

In other words, gaining access to an old flame can damper the heat of the relationship you are in today. cites studies revealing that 19% of people feel jealous of their spouses' online interactions.

Facilitating confirmation behavior

Social media networks, like Facebook, allow partners to observe the activities of their spouse indirectly through the posts and likes of mutual friends. This access to discrete snooping to confirm suspicions could lead to ending the marriage.

Bolstering one's courage

People engage in social media to connect with others. So, if someone is feeling unhappy in their marriage and receives encouragement to leave their partner from their social network providing emotional support, they might feel encouraged to act.

Facilitating online infidelity

This emerging infidelity type involves forming romantic and sexual relationships with people that are not your spouse, maintained through electronic conversations. These relationships, which begin online and may lead to face-to-face indiscretions, degrade the bond of the marriage and destroy trust between partners.

YouGov America reports that one in six of current users of dating apps report that cheating on their spouse is one of the reasons they use them.

Social Media Before Divorce

Social media is a part of our lives and affects our relationships. Therefore, there are a few things to consider about social media before divorce.

First, are you spending more time online than you do with your spouse? If so, consider closing the Instagram app, putting down the phone, and starting a conversation. These connections are crucial to keep a marriage on track.

Do you have a hard time not engaging with social media? Social media addiction is a thing, and it can lead to problems in your life and relationships. So, if you think you can stop anytime you want, try it. On the other hand, if you have problems giving it up, it might be time to reconsider your relationship with social media networks.

Are there social media posts you do not want your spouse to see? If you have posted things on Facebook, Instagram, or other sites that you wouldn't want your spouse to read, consider why that is. Those reasons indicate an opportunity in your relationship that needs attention.

What Not to Post on Social Media Before a Divorce?

There are a few things one should not post before a divorce, including:

  • Anything you wouldn't want someone in your life to read
  • Any intimate relationship details
  • Any criticisms about your relationship

Anything you wouldn't want someone in your life to read

If you don't want what is in your social media posts read by your spouse, parents, boss, or anyone else, you shouldn't put them on social media networks.

Any intimate relationship details

Relationships are private. Putting private information in public damages the relationship, especially if it is unflattering or embarrassing about or to your spouse.

Any criticisms about your relationship

It's not a good idea to air your grievances or put negative information online. Not only is that unfair to your relationship, but also legal teams can use these social media posts against you in divorce proceedings later.

Social Media During Divorce

Social media networks have become a go-to resource for digging up stuff on your spouse. The most important thing to remember about social media usage during divorce is that what you put online or into text messages can follow you into divorce agreement proceedings.

Research indicates that 81 percent of divorce attorneys report that spouses search for online evidence to support their claims in divorce. Also, one out of every five divorces cites Facebook.

In addition, despite the temptation to do so, social media networks are not the best place to discuss your feelings about your divorce. It is better to share those feelings with close friends or family in person.

Otherwise, your emotional reaction to a complicated process can end up in front of 400 of your closest acquaintances on Instagram, which will only elevate the drama associated with the ending of a marriage.

What Not to Post on Social Media During a Divorce

In addition to the things mentioned that one should not post before divorce, there are a few things to avoid posting during a divorce, including:

  1. Pictures of big purchases
  2. Intimate pictures from wild parties or other scandalous details of your life
  3. Depictions of you drinking or using illegal substances if custody is an issue in your divorce
  4. Anything without a myriad of privacy filters

Pictures of big purchases on your social media accounts

These can come up in court, sometimes multiple times, and end up costing you even more in legal fees to defend and explain than the expensive item you bought.

Intimate pictures from wild parties or other scandalous details of your life

Putting those details out there is like wrapping them up in a gift for your spouse's divorce attorney to bring up in child custody arguments.

Depictions of you drinking or using illegal substances if custody is an issue in your divorce

Just like the above, anything that calls your judgment or behavior into question could hurt you at court.

Anything without a myriad of privacy filters

If you want to stay on social media and post, invest some time in understanding the privacy filters of the various sites. Also, ask your friends to refrain from tagging you in photos or posts. And, of course, realize that even with the privacy settings in place, nothing you say online is really private, so proceed with caution anyway.

Social Media After Divorce

Once the dust settles on the divorce agreement, you might think it's okay to go back to your old habits on social media networks. However, there are still some things to avoid on social media usage even after the divorce is final.

Your social media posts after divorce can still lead to legal issues.

If you have kids together, what you post on your social media can always be used against you if your ex wants to change or modify custody or your parenting plan.

Social media posts are more permanent than you think, no matter how tight your privacy settings are and how quickly you delete them.

What Not to Post on Social Media After a Divorce

Here are a few things not to do with your social media accounts after divorce:

Don’t post pictures or information about drinking, drug use, or new partners (until they become serious. Also do not use social media to disparage your kids or your ex.

If you are receiving spousal or child support, do not post photos of extravagant purchases since they may call into question your income and your eligibility to receive support. Do not post about a salary increase or a promotion, since you might end up paying more support to your ex.

Avoid posting photos of your children. Your spouse may complain about you invading their privacy or depicting them in a negative light.

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How to announce your divorce on social media?

Some people feel that the divorce announcement has become a necessity since the growth in popularity of social media networks. If you don’t want to post anything, that is totally fine, don’t feel pressured. However, if you do want to post your separation and divorce, unlike the cat photos you usually upload, this social media post needs special care. Short and sweet are two essential components.

Short, meaning succinct, and sweet, meaning respectful to your ex. In addition, it's a good idea to keep it positive, as in "looking forward to the next phase in our lives." Perhaps most important is what isn't included here: blame, vitriol, negativity, or bitterness.

What are the signs of divorce on social media?

Some of the signs of divorce on social media include:

  • Changing the profile photo from a couple shot to a solo shot.
  • Venting feelings about the marriage or the spouse through social media posts.
  • Using private messaging a lot to communicate with people that are not the spouse.
  • Unfriending or unfollowing the other spouse on the platform.
  • Spending more time on the platform than with your spouse—and preferring it.
  • Discovering your spouse is investigating your posts through friends of friends.

What to do with social media photos after divorce?

One of the first things you should do after deciding to end your marriage is to change your profile picture, mainly if your ex (or soon-to-be ex) is in it. Next, you should delete the photos you have stored there of memories from your life together.

This step might seem complicated, but it is essential to help you move on to your new future. Also, having pictures of your ex on your profile might signal that you are not interested in meeting other people. If you are ready or even dating someone else already, it might be a good time to get rid of these photos.

Perhaps most importantly, don't feel guilty about this after-divorce photo scrub. It's healthy and makes room for new images of the next phase of your life to replace them.

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