Do you need a social media clause in your prenuptial agreement?

There's a growing trend in prenuptial agreements that may surprise a lot of people: social media clauses.

Prenups are now widely used. Modern couples recognize them as a financial tool that can provide a measure of security to both halves of a couple in uncertain times. Maybe it's only natural that younger generations that don't remember a time without the Internet would think to extend protection to social media. After all, social media has always been a prominent part of their lives.

Social media clauses in prenups help couples define what they consider acceptable online behavior from each other. Given that online relationships are often as important to people today as real-world relationships, it isn't hard to understand why couples might want to set some boundaries. It's an important part of guarding their online reputations in the event of marital trouble.

What do social media clauses do? They can prevent spouses from:

  • Sharing inappropriate or intimate photos of each other online
  • Publishing private exchanges carried out through text or email to a public account
  • Criticizing each other publicly on any social media account
  • Making accusations in a public forum about the other's infidelity or other marital shortcomings
  • Revealing information online that could potentially damage the other spouse's career or job search
  • Accepting "friend" requests from or following former romantic partners

For couples who are family-minded, social media clauses can also allow them to negotiate -- in advance -- what information about the children will and will not be shareable on social media. In addition, couples can agree as they draft their prenup not to open any social accounts that are hidden from each other.

Most social media clauses impose financial penalties if the contract is violated. For most people, embarrassing a spouse online isn't worth the financial loss that they'd take when it comes time to divide the marital assets.

Ultimately, social media contracts just extend the purpose of any prenup. They set expectations that require spouses to treat each other with respect -- even when a relationship is falling apart. In that respect, prenups are something that most couples should consider discussing with their family law attorney.

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