*Relationship coaches and married couple Dr. Sheri Meyers and Jonathan Aslay speak to Katie Couric about their social media prenup.
More than 80 percent of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers say the involvement of social networking in divorce proceedings is increasing.
A new trend in prenuptial agreements involves the inclusion of a legally binding “social media clause” that determines the kind of information and images couples can share about one another across social media platforms.
Violations of such agreements carry penalties ranging from carrying out domestic duties to fines of up to $50,000, according to ABC News.
If embarrassing your spouse online doesn’t end up costing you thousands for post-breakup violations, you may find yourself legally bound to months of toilet duty.
In an age where seeking instant gratification via social media is commonplace, perhaps such agreements shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the social media clause assumes that couples are not already making common-sense judgments about humiliating their spouses online.
New York-based attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza told ABC News that these agreements help couples identify the areas where they won’t compromise: “You want to establish boundaries, what will be off limits, what will be private … what are the acceptable areas of your private lives that you want to post online.”
Depending on a person’s wealth, Carrozza’s clients receive monetary compensation if the social media clause is violated. “The clause we’re using with it is $50,000 per episode” per post or per tweet, she said.
“We want to be able to contractually limit the damage, [which] is psychological, in the case of humiliating posts and tweets and pictures out there, and it’s economic because my career prospects are harmed.”
It’s unfortunate that legal consequences for violating a spouse’s privacy are necessary to avoid what might otherwise be considered common decency. Written agreements, however, may prevent impulse sharing by an angry, or clueless, spouse.
Attorney Aaron Weems told CBS Philly the clause is “just a way for people to really put down on paper what the expectations are that after you’re divorced or when you’re in the midst of a divorce that you’re going to treat each other with respect.”
While anticipating a divorce may not be the best way to begin a marriage, the social media prenup is not just intended for celebrities or high-profile couples. It’s a reaction to to the rise of revenge porn and the permanency of digital media.
“It’s for anybody that has a business that’s really built upon and relies upon their personal brand, whether it’s an interior designer or an attorney,” said Weems. “These types of things are important and can result on people losing their jobs and their livelihood.”
As an alternative to legal mandates, however, many couples still prefer to set boundaries with verbal agreements about what is acceptable social media sharing, which often require that spouses seek permission before posting images or information about their significant others.
Los Angeles-based relationship and family therapist Sheri Meyers (see video above) is writing a book about social media and relationships. She believes all couples, married or otherwise, should be talking about social media and establishing clear boundaries.
“It’s really about avoiding betrayal, a sense of betrayal,” she said. “Its’ not the clause, it’s the discussion. It’s having it spelled out to avoid problems later.”
*featured image credit: Getty Images