Over 20 million Australians are active social media users. It’s everywhere. We freely share our thoughts and feelings. We share life events. We share our achievements. And we share our disappointments.
When you separate, there’s a lot going on. It’s tempting to post about your separation and your ex-partner on social media. But it’s important to understand the emotional and legal implications of sharing information publicly. No matter how you feel in the moment, there are some things you should consider when posting online.
Be respectful of your ex-partner online
Consider when you should announce your separation or update your relationship status. It’s important to respect that there were two people in the relationship, and any public announcement should wait until you are both ready.
Be mindful that people heal at different rates. You might be ready to pop some champagne and celebrate the new you. You may even have a new partner. But your ex may be in an earlier stage of grief and healing over your break-up. Certainly celebrate if that’s where you’re at, but don’t rush to broadcast it online.
When you do announce your split, be brief. You’re not obliged to explain in detail why you’ve separated. If you want to avoid questions, say in the post that you need space and time before you share more.
Who might read your posts?
Remember that it’s not just your close friends who follow you on social media. Mutual friends in your relationship, in-laws you want to keep in your life, colleagues you wouldn’t normally share intimate details with or potential employers could all be the audience for a post directed towards your ex-partner.
Do you have children? They may be too young for a smartphone now, but they will undoubtedly be tech-savvy enough to look back through your profile when they are older. Leaving a digital record of your feelings about their other parent could cause resentment and anger later.
Understand that posts could be used against you
Anything you share on social media about your separation or your ex-partner could be used against you in a legal setting, even if you don’t send it directly to them. Mutual friends may share the content you post. If your case escalates, this content could be used as evidence. This applies to texts and emails as well.
Feelings can run high in a separation, but try not to post or send anything when you’re angry. And always consider how someone will interpret what you say, even if you’re being flippant.
Consider the possibility of reconciliation
Not every separation is permanent. One in five couples who separate get back together with their partner. Be careful writing posts that you may later regret.
This extends to friends and family of separating couples. You might feel angry towards the ex-partner of a friend or family member, especially if you think they were the one ‘in the wrong.’ Be mindful that you may damage your relationship if you’ve expressed your feelings about a friend’s ex online and they get back together.
Seek support in private online groups
Private groups on social media can be a great forum to chat with people who have a similar experience to you. Separation can be alienating, especially if none of your close friends has been through it. It’s healing to know you’re not the only one, and there are others out there who can give you advice.
Even if a group is private, don’t share any specific details about your ex-partner or children. If you ask for advice, frame it in a general way.
Don’t communicate about parenting arrangements on social media
Consider your children’s privacy when posting or messaging through social media. Think about using a co-parenting app designed for separated parents.
These apps help you manage your care arrangement and include messaging, shared calendars and shared expenses. They are designed to keep communication amicable and your information private.
The Separation Guide aims to make separation and divorce simpler, more manageable and less stressful. To find out more about how one of our Network Members could support your separation, take our free three-minute Q&A.
The information in our resources is general only. Consider getting in touch with a professional adviser if you need support with your legal, financial or wellbeing needs.