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'Uncoupling' online: Divorce in the digital age

In the past, a divorce probably didn't feel "real" until one spouse moved out of the marital home and started living somewhere else. These days, however, a divorce doesn't feel real to many people until at least one of the spouses changes his or her Facebook status to "single."

However, "uncoupling" online may be a lot harder than that -- especially for millennials and others who have come of age in an era where it is common to document everything from family dinners to family vacations on social media. It's not unusual to keep up with family and friends that way, either.

How do you split yourself apart from the spouse you're divorcing in the digital age? Take these hints from others who have already been there:

  1. Consider creating entirely new social media profiles. You can simply lock down the old accounts and use them for storage. Deal with them when your feelings are less painful.
  2. At the very minimum, do a "social media" housecleaning. Pull all of your photos with your ex off your account and store them somewhere else for the future. (Don't delete them until you've had at least a year to decide if you want them or not.) Go through your list of friends and delete anyone who is really your spouse's acquaintance -- not yours.
  3. Consider crafting a single post letting everyone know that you're divorced. Ask them to refrain from questions. That may be the best way to "get the message out" and avoid uncomfortable situations later.
  4. Create new accounts for all your photos, documents and other digital storage. That way, you won't accidentally find yourself sharing an old account with your ex-spouse. Don't forget digital accounts like Amazon, eBay, Craigslist and other, similar accounts that you and your spouse may have once shared.

Getting through a divorce takes patience -- and people today encounter challenges that previous generations didn't have to face. A proactive approach and a well-considered strategy, however, can make the process a lot smoother as you proceed.

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