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Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. Blog

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What Can I Do If My Ex Is Bad-Mouthing Me Online During Our Divorce?

The Internet is a fun to place to connect with other people and share with them. However, some people take advantage of this platform to post negative, untrue and hurtful things about others. Sometimes, the person posting this type of content is a soon-to-be former spouse. This can cause hurt feelings, embarrassment and additional stress during an already stressful time. 

If your spouse is bad-mouthing you online, the last thing you want to do is engage in the same behavior.  We’ve provided some helpful tips below, and if you have more questions, it can always help to talk to a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer. 

Step 1 – Take a Breath

In the seconds or minutes after you read an offensive post from your ex, it’s likely that your heart rate and blood pressure will markedly increase. That is normal. When this happens, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put the phone down, back away from the computer and take some deep breaths. Do not respond in this instant. Instead, find something to distract you, like a walk, a vent-session with a trusted friend, or a trip to the gym.

Step 2 – Assess The Situation

After you’ve taken some time to get your heart rate and anger under control, think about what your ex-spouse said about you and what the best possible response is. The first rule of online behavior when going through a divorce is this: never post anything you do not want to see blown up on a poster in the courtroom. You may call it a post; your attorney will call it “Exhibit A.” 

Yes, your ex has just said some pretty hurtful stuff about you online for your family, friends and co-workers to see. For the most part, your family and friends are going to have your back and will not believe what is being said about you anyway. At this moment, you may have a fairly powerful weapon sitting there on the page. 
Chances are, if your spouse is behaving this way online, the divorce is not exactly amicable. If the two of you are fighting over property and perhaps custody, your spouse may have just shot him or herself in the foot, while providing you with powerful leverage in the argument. 

Step 3 – Do Inflame. Do Not Defend. Do Not Engage.

The last thing you want to do is to provide your ex with the same type of leverage to use against you. Take screen shots of the offensive post(s) and place them in a file. You can send them to your attorney and seek his or her advice on how best to use them. You might also seek their advice on whether to block your ex altogether on social media.
Continue to ignore the posts and avoid posting anything online that might be harmful to your divorce case, including images of you partying or seeing another person (particularly if you are having a custody dispute). While there is nothing wrong with dating during divorce, some people use those relationships to cast doubt on your parenting ability.
Find your inner peace and focus on life away from social media.

Step 4 – Consider Legal Options

Talking to your divorce attorney can help you determine what course of action to take regarding your ex-spouse’s behavior. If you just feel that you cannot put up with the behavior, you have some options:

  • Have your attorney talk to their attorney about the behavior and ask them to stop.
  • Ask for a clause in the marital agreement that prohibits such behavior after the divorce
  • Consider filing a defamation lawsuit

Now, not all offensive posts are legally considered defamation. Defamation is a false statement made about someone and is injurious to that person’s character and reputation. The statement is made publicly so that it reaches other people and causes harm to the reputation or social standing of the victim. 

Posting false and hurtful things about someone on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter or on websites, blogs or any other online public forum is considered online defamation. 

Any way you slice it, divorce is an emotionally taxing time. Engaging in online arguments and name-calling only makes things worse. If you and your spouse are considering divorce, contact a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer today to determine your rights.


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