Is it appropriate to use social media to promote divorce-related services?
In this interview with Alternative Divorce Directory expert Aisling Collins Family solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator of E M Collins & Co Solicitors and Mediators , I asked Aisling how she uses social media in her role as a Divorce Mediator, encouraging couples to avoid adversarial routes through divorce.
"Social media can undoubtedly be a positive medium when used appropriately to assist parting couples who have a difficult relationship but understand the benefits for their wider families and dependants if they can avoid a continuing antagonistic relationship. It can provide a forum to share information without having to enter into direct conversation and dialogue which can often result in arguments and recriminations when emotions are heightened.
Facebook has proved a great way to share details of time spent for example with children of a family with either parent. So I have very positive experiences of an absent parent being reassured about the welfare of their children when the children are away on a holiday or just spending time during periods of contact with the other parent by seeing regular updates and photos posted on facebook during such times. When used carefully with regard for the other parent this type of social media can serve to dispel stress and enable some fears and concerns to be dispelled. It encourages openness and developments such as FaceTime and instant messenger / what's app are a very affordable way to keep channels of communication open. Kids and parents can use them. As soon as kids can type / write in even a basic way it can be an inexpensive and immediate way to stay in touch with either parent.
So if people use it wisely and as a tool to improve communication social media can be great.
Of course if it is not used wisely then there are real dangers. People can antagonise each other and fuel distrust by posting or tweeting comments that are not considered. Photos can be hurtful - bearing witness to a new relationship proudly depicted on Facebook can cause great distress. Resentment can fuel an emotional reaction and especially where children are caught in the middle of an antagonistic and adversarial divorce this can start a cycle of tit for tat behaviour / game playing that can become very damaging to children.
In so far as financial disputes are concerned congratulations on a new job or other success posted on social media which have not been properly disclosed and which impacting on negotiations between parties and their solicitors can create distrust and provided a basis for increased acrimony and unpleasantness. Negotiations can become more protracted and costs increased. Even comments on the web pages of children and other family can be viewed.
Negotiations are often protracted too when too many people become privy to the content and express views and opinions. Opening up emotional and tense situations to the comment of others needs to be carefully considered as there is a lot of scope for people to comment on and misconstrue facts which can mean that people lose focus and constructive momentum previously achieved in mediation or constructive dialogue through solicitors. Collaborative agreements entered into by parties and solicitors trying to avoid adversarial divorces expressly state that the content of meetings should not be rehearsed outside the meetings so as to avoid setbacks being caused in this way. If you want more information about this type of non adversarial approach to divorce I am happy to talk to you about that. The same applies to coupes in mediation.
So it's all about using the medium of social media wisely and to help. If people want to engage in emotional or tactical game playing through social media it is not hard. The effects can be far reaching and will affect not just the parting couple but their family and friends too."
Family solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator
E M Collins & Co Solicitors and Mediators