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Social media is a huge part of most of our lives. It serves as a way to communicate, share memories, do business, and more. In many ways, our lives are documented on social media. However, it is important to remember that for people going through separation or divorce, social media carries significant legal risks. These risks can be amplified during the holidays. We’d like to take a moment this week to inform our readers about how to avoid some of the pitfalls associated with careless social media use.

Social media can be used to expose dangerous behaviour

A second wave of COVID-19 is well underway throughout much of the country, and in many cases large gatherings, also known as “super-spreader events” are being blamed for concentrated outbreaks in communities. Just this week it was reported that employees of Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia had been fired after an outbreak of 60 COVID-19 cases were linked to gatherings attended by employees of the resort.

Many regions throughout Ontario are currently in “orange” or “red” zones which limit the number of people who can gather indoors and outdoors, whether at a private business, public place, or private home. Of course, not everybody follows the rules when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions. Social media is an excellent way for people to be identified as rule breakers. One of the most popular uses of social media is photo-sharing, and the risk of a parent breaking COVID protocols could impact their ability to maintain custody of their children, even if the child is not with them at the time. Of course, we recommend that everyone follows the rules, but even inadvertent instances of broken rules can have consequences.

The emotional dangers of social media during the holidays

The holidays are already a difficult time for divorced or separated parents. It’s important to remember that social media use, including passive viewing and active posting, can have detrimental effects on a family. Posting photos of gatherings can make the people not included feel bad about missing out, or being alone for the holidays. While divorce or separation can come with hard feelings towards the other party, it’s important to remember that children are often caught in the crossfire and might have negative feelings when viewing their parents’ social media accounts.

Don’t use social media to vent about others

A piece of advice that applies all-year-round is that people should never, ever, talk about their former partners on social media, especially in a negative light. Decisions are released all the time that describe spouses who talk despairingly about their former partners on social media, leading to court orders, which when ignored can have costly consequences. It’s worth remembering that conduct online is not all that different than conduct in the real world, and that one’s behaviour on social media can be used to show they are not fit to have custody of a child.  It’s also clearly not healthy for children to see their parents talking negatively about one another.

At Gelman & Associates, we take pride in providing outstanding customer service and staying on top of legal and other developments that may impact our clients, such as helping clients navigate the world of social media while going through a divorce.  Our clients trust us with their difficult issues, which is why we have received the Consumer Choice Award two years in a row.  Call us at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-736-0200 or contact us online. With offices in in Aurora, Barrie, Downtown Toronto, Mississauga, North York and Scarborough, we are easily accessible.

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