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The Real Me(me) – Divorce and Your Online Identity

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In the age of social media, there is much we can learn about another person without he or she ever being the wiser and before we have even met IRL (“in real life”). Prospective employers, friends, past and future romantic partners all use these tools to find out what you have been up to and, ultimately, to come to conclusions regarding your character. It is imperative to understand the impact your online presence can have following the breakdown of your relationship.

In family law proceedings, the new and hot evidence consist of Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram posts, emails and text messages. Chains of text messages and posts from social media accounts routinely find their way into court documents to demonstrate that a former partner has poor decision-making abilities, is angry and/or aggressive, involves the children in disputes and/or has lied to the court in his or her affidavits. Perhaps more disturbing, is a former partner’s access to your personal emails and/or text messages as a result of previously disclosed passwords. All of this can, and likely will, show up in court documents, which are then publicly available for anyone to see and read.

Here are a few tips regarding your online presence following a break up:

  • Change the passwords to each and every account and electronic device immediately to something that is alpha-numeric. Avoid names and/or significant dates.
  • Before you post anything – whether picture or text – ask yourself the following question, “What would a judge think?”
  • Assume that any text messages and/or emails you send will ultimately be read by your former partner and then used to his or her advantage
  • Remember to disconnect any devices/accounts that are linked to and/or with your former partner

And, although it can feel gratifying, resist the urge to post negative commentary about your former partner (it’s just not worth the “likes”!)

About the Author

Maneesha Mehra is an associate at Goldhart & Associates and joined the firm in February 2015 after practicing at several boutique family law firms in Toronto. She was called to the bar in 2006 after articling with a full-service law firm. Maneesha has experience in civil litigation, but has been practising family law exclusively since January 2008.

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