Divorce Trend: Social Networking Clauses in Prenuptial Agreements

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Aug 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

Prenuptial agreements are one way to clearly outline how assets and debts will be divided in the event of divorce. Clarifying these details from the outset can help to better understand expectations between both spouses, while protecting your rights in the event of a marriage dissolution.

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While prenuptial agreements primarily outline financial agreements in the event of divorce, new “social media clauses,” spell out how spouses are allowed to behave online. According to reports, a new trend of social media clauses in prenuptial agreements involve the inclusion of language about posting unflattering or embarrassing information on social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumbler.

Few people get married expecting the union to fail, and even fewer can imagine a person they once cared for so deeply trashing them online, ruining their reputation, business prospects and more. Unfortunately, the reality is 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce. Whether a marriage lasts six months or 20 years, both spouses have time to accumulate information, data and photos that their spouse does not want made public. Our Birmingham divorce lawyers are experienced with representing individuals who are facing divorce. In addition to providing advocacy through the divorce process, we can also counsel couples prior to marriage and devise a prenuptial agreement to secure personal and financial well-being in the event of divorce.

Social media applications are growing in popularity, and the risks of certain kinds of exposure are worth addressing. Essentially, a social media clause in a prenuptial agreement is an extension of the non-disparagement clause, which existed long before Facebook or Twitter. The purpose of a non-disparagement clause is to restrict both parties from taking action or making statements that might negatively impact the other.

To create the most effective social networking clause, both parties should be specific about which websites are applicable, and what cannot be posted without consent. Some clauses may stipulate there is to be no release of pictures (particularly those with nudity) absent both parties' express consent. Such clauses can apply during and after a marriage is finalized.

Other contracts have gone so far as to limit what kind of online or social media relations a spouse can have during the marriage. For example, a provision may state that a spouse cannot tweet, text or communicate with a new ‘friend' without consent. In general, the clauses can help protect individual parties from defamatory or derogatory comments, or social media displays that call into question the other spouse's reputation. Still, it's not entirely clear  how such clauses will hold up in court. What is a violation to one spouse may seem harmless to another.

The prenuptial agreement is, simply put, a legally binding contract between two parties. When there is a violation of that agreement, the “victim” must be able to prove financial damages, including how a damaged reputation could amount to lost clients or business. In the end, including a social media clause could serve as a warning to keep both spouses on best behavior when divorce becomes a possibility. If this limits the contentiousness of a proceeding, it could ultimately save both parties money, as disputes may be more amicably resolved.

If you are facing divorce, you should be careful of what you post online, regardless of whether a prenuptial agreement is in place. You may find your online posts and discourse to be effectively used against you.  A social media clause in a prenuptial agreement could preserve your privacy and prevent disparaging comments made by a spouse. In the end, you can help protect your own reputation, business, and personal relationships though advanced legal planning.

Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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