At a time when almost everyone is using social media, it may come as no surprise that some couples want a social media clause in their ‘relationship contracts’ to clarify what is acceptable to share online about each other.
It’s an important issue because once something is posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, it is almost always there forever. While most of the damage from a negative post may be psychological, it can also be physical if it impacts the earning power of the lover or spouse.
A typical social media clause may state, for example, that a couple can’t post nude or embarrassing photos which could harm the other’s reputation. The penalty for violating a social media clause, which is written into the contract, may be monetary, costing hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on how much someone makes.
Even if a couple chooses not to have a social media prenup, they should at least have a conversation about boundaries on social media sites. In our book, The New Love Deal, Terry Savage, Michele Lowrance and I emphasize the importance of the conversation – not just to discuss the parameters about using social media but, in fact, all financial aspects related to the relationship or marriage.
A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers shows that the inclusion of social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise. Increasingly, judges must consider social media evidence when ruling on a case. A negative post on Facebook, written for revenge, could conceivably have grave consequences for the offender, resulting in a forfeiture of alimony, for example.
But whether or not you have a written social media prenup, consider the advice I give to clients who are divorcing: Avoid using social media altogether. Nothing good can come from sharing your negative feelings about the other person. It’s just not worth the risk when so much is at stake.
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