Sometimes – scratch that; LOTS of times – when we meet with clients, they’ll ask a question and follow it up with, “I read on Facebook that,” or “This divorce blog said,” or “I saw a bunch of posts online,” or something to that effect. And while each of us in the office understands that need for a shared human experience, we can’t help but cringe a little at the bad advice so many of our clients have gotten from divorce support websites.
Now, we know it seems a little on the nose to write about a blog post about, well, other blog posts. And the truth is, there are some WONDERFUL online support groups out there. Talking about your experiences with other people can help you sort through your own thoughts. But from a legal perspective? Some of what you read isn’t always accurate, and some of it can be downright damaging when it comes to actually getting divorced, sharing custody of the kids, trying to divide up your assets, and so forth.
Today, we want to go over some things that we think might help you when you’re researching information online.
First, beware of anyone who gives legal advice. In our own posts, we try to explain different situations that might be applicable, or different laws that could apply, but they’re all general information blogs. We would never give legal advice to someone who hasn’t signed on to be our client, because every client has a unique and robust story of his or her own circumstances. And non-lawyers don’t have the training and experience we do, so they could accidentally steer you the wrong way. So if you read a post by a non-lawyer that says “You have to,” just take it with a grain of salt.
Second, make sure to avoid toxic environments. Divorce makes a lot of people angry. It’s natural, and sometimes, you just need to vent a little. But is the group you joined helping you feel better, or do you just feel inflamed and angrier? If the people you speak with online are only concerned with bashing their exes, without offering any love or support, then you might have an even harder time going through the process.
Third, beware of anyone who asks for personal information about your children. Look – you don’t know who’s out there, lurking in the comments. It’s a terrible thought, but it’s true. Don’t post pictures of your kids. Don’t use their real names. Don’t use their real ages. Don’t talk about what schools they go to, or who their friends are.
Fourth, remember that nothing online is ever truly deleted. Sure, you may decide to erase your profile or stop commenting, but once you post something online, there’s always a way to call it back.
Finally, vet your sources. Domains like “I hate my ex dot com” might not be the best place to find helpful advice about how to co-parent, or how to handle an ex who’s not following your Parenting Plan. And we don’t mean just from a legal perspective, either.
If you’re looking for informative, researched material to help you cope, there are some wonderful sources out there. You might find a great support group through your place of worship, if you attend services, or at your local community center. We help our clients find therapists and counselors, if they need them, but you can also check out Tennessee 2-1-1 for help, or ask your doctor what he or she recommends. You could get some excellent advice about online support groups from any of these individuals.
If you need legal guidance for your divorce, or if you are already divorced but struggling with an ex, Shepherd and Associates, P.C. can help. To schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer ay our Maryville office, please call 865.225.9655 or complete our contact form. We are proud to work with clients throughout East Tennessee.