Couples: Be Careful What You "Like", Social Media Prenups On the Rise

Social Media Prenups -- HHR Blog entry

by Rebecca Crumine Rieder, Hedgepeth, Heredia & Rieder

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As social media becomes an increasing presence in our lives, there’s been a sharp increase in the role these platforms can play in marriage and divorce. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports as many as 80 percent of divorcing couples now cite social media as a contributing factor in the breakup.


The story of the woman caught sexting with a man not her husband during a recent baseball game is a great example. We don’t know where this couple ended up, but chances are it wasn’t a fun weekend for either of them! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/baseball-game-sexting_55b5b152e4b0a13f9d18ebf6.


Socsocial media logosial media conventions are as new as the medium and evolving as rapidly, making it ripe for misunderstanding. A clause addressing social media in a prenup may help avoid some of the worst pitfalls during the marriage, and after. The term “social media” may mean major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, but may also include more private methods, like texting, email or messaging apps like SnapChat.


What does a Social Media clause look like?

  • A social media provision in a prenup (short for “prenuptial agreement,” or an agreement made prior to the marriage), lays out how to use social media as a couple

  • It serves two purposes: one, to decide how each partner may use social media during the marriage, and two, how each partner may depict the other person on social media in the event of a divorce


When people get angry, they can lose the ability to think straight. So the object of the social media provision is to have the couple agree, while still together and still on the same page, on what the reasonable parameters of social media use should be. It should cover the time period during the marriage and during a divorce, and should include the financial penalties for violating the agreement.


Laying down the rules clearly and establishing consequences ahead of time can help avoid conflict and hurt feelings.

  • During a marriage, the couple may decide to share social media accounts, or to share passwords

  • Each may specify what is okay for the other person to share about him or her

  • Couples might want to decide together who is okay to have as a friend on these networks, including family, friends, and coworkers, and who is not, particularly ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends


In the event of a divorce, people often are filled with anger and frustration, and the desire to vent their feelings on social media is understandable. But it isn’t really an appropriate forum. An ugly post on social media, whether true or not, can be damaging to professional or personal life, sometimes to a far greater extent than intended.


Airing dirty laundry in public is rarely a good idea, and a social media prenup with penalties reminds individuals of that. Someone who knows ahead of time what the acceptable parameters are, and what the penalties for infraction are, will think twice before flaming an ex online.


Parents should also remember that their children may find these derogatory posts online; maybe not today, but someday, and that they will not reflect on either partner in a positive light. “The internet is forever” may be a phrase taught to children to encourage them to show good judgment online, but their parents would be wise to heed this motto also.


By spelling out what is acceptable online behavior and what is not, and delineating consequences for violating the agreement, the social media prenup acts as a reminder that the short-term satisfaction of posting something negative about the other partner online is rarely worth the long-term consequences.