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Tennessee families often share their lives online with their friends, neighbors and relatives. During a divorce, however, taking a break from social media may help avoid complications.

Online interactions with a soon-to-be ex-spouse could develop into a highly toxic atmosphere; the divorce process could lengthen as a result. As noted by Psychology Today, courts may refer to a toxic divorce as a “high conflict” episode; the spouses tend to escalate into more extreme levels of disagreement and animosity.

Instead of resolving issues such as property division and financial support, spouses may instead stalk, harass or fight with each other over the internet. They may also draw others into the conflict.

Holding off on posts about being single again

Rushing to update a relationship status on an online profile could unintentionally divide a couple’s friends and family. A status changed from “married” to “separated” or “it’s complicated” could create an impression that leads to divisiveness and possible confrontations with once-amicable friends and relatives.

Individuals who make up a couple’s mutual network may feel compelled to take sides between divorcing spouses. They may begin posting messages online to show which spouse they support. This could both complicate and drag out the divorce proceedings.

Relatives might think their comments help spouses get through a breakup; their posts may, however, actually hurt the separating family.

Complicating child custody issues

Tennessee’s family court judges award child custody to one or both parents. A parent who shows that he or she abandoned a child for at least 18 months may not gain custody rights.

Based on contents posted online, a parent may appear as though he or she deserted the relationship. Posting images with a new girlfriend or boyfriend may cause confusion, especially if a new extended family appears to be forthcoming.

Party images posted online — especially if depicting alcohol or recreational substances — may cause a judge to award child custody to the parent viewed as more responsible. Depending on a child’s needs, social media contents could serve as evidence to either backup or delegitimize a parent’s custodial hopes.