Can My Ex Say That on Social Media? / by Cassandra Hearn

Social media is overwhelmingly pervasive in the United States, with millions of people engaging in social media usage each day. One study showed that social media has been used by 80% of divorce lawyers, and other studies have showed a link between social media use and divorce. After the divorce or child custody case is over, drama on social media can often continue. Bitter and nasty former spouses or partners may continue to air the divorce or child custody case on social media, but there is not much that can be done to stop this. The short answer to whether you ex can make these types of statements on social media is “usually yes.”  However, there are exceptions.

One major exception would be if your former spouse or partner is using social media to issue threats. Harassing or threatening statements are not magically permissible simply because they are made in electronic form. California has a stalking law, penal code 646.9, that prevents anyone from making harassing or threatening statements to another, whether that is by the internet, e-mail, or a variety of other electronic means. If your ex spouse or partner is violating these provisions, you should contact your attorney and possibly also law enforcement.

Another exception could fall under defamation laws. This is also categorized as libel. Defamation cases are difficult to prove, and have very specific requirements. First and foremost is that the statement made by your former spouse or partner must be false. In other words, repeating truthful statements of what happened in court or during a particularly acrimonious child visitation exchange will not qualify as a defamatory statement. It may be frustrating to have your former spouse repeating every formerly private detail of your life, but if the statement is true, then your spouse is free to repeat it. It is possible for either spouse to ask the court to issue an order restraining the parties from recounting details of the divorce or child custody proceedings. These orders are rare, however, as courts are hesitant to impose any restriction on free speech.

If your spouse is using social media to intentionally damage your relationship with your child, this is a circumstance when the court may impose consequences on a parent. Courts take parental alienation very seriously, and using social media for this purpose is no exception.

Social media may be a useful tool to maintain contact with friends and family, but it can become a burden when relationships turn sour. If you have questions about social media and how it interacts with your family law case, call us today at (619) 800-0384 to discuss your options.