Announcing a divorce or separation on Facebook or other social media is becoming more and more common.  In November, racing sensation Danica Patrick used Facebook to announce that she was separating from her husband by posting “I am sad to inform my fans that after seven years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage.”  With about 287,000 Facebook fans this was a quick and effective way for Patrick to get out this news.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a situation where their divorce or separation is amicable and by mutual agreement.  More, unfortunate is that not all postings about divorces or separation are as respectful and dignified as this one.

Facebook and other social media provide a perfect and convenient forum to announce life’s big news.  “It’s a boy” and “He proposed” and other happy announcements can be broadcast to hundreds of our friends quickly and with photos to illustrate our news.  Facebook also can allow us to share sad news, such as the death of a loved one, without having to make numerous phone calls and having to relive the tragedy time after time as we relate the news to others.

But when it comes to announcing a divorce or separation, Facebook and social media may not be the best choice of method for delivering the news.  It offers a number of pitfalls or complications.  It can fan the flames of discord between you and your estranged spouse.  It also can be a way to share too much information with the world and especially with your children and their friends, who probably are using the same social media.

I suggest not announcing your divorce or separation on Facebook or other social media.  But if you must post about your divorce or separation, then I have a few important suggestions.

Do not post when you are angry or overly emotional.

Draft your post and let it sit for 24 hours.  If it still looks good after you let it sit, then post it.  Your divorce may be important to you, but it is not essential that you share your news in real time with the world.  By following this rule, it will be much easier to follow the rest of my suggestions.

Do not make accusations, even if they are true.

Even if you caught him in bed with the babysitter, the world does not need to know this.  Details like this probably should not be shared via social media.  Remember, your children, their real friends, as well as most of their peers, will read your post.

Be respectful.

The old adage that if you have nothing nice to say you should say nothing at all provides a good starting point.  Avoid name calling.  By being respectful you show that you still have your dignity.

Be concise.

Be short and sweet.  “We have decided to separate” or “our divorce is completed” says a lot.  Those people who really care can hear the details directly from you over time.  Most of your Facebook “friends” could not care less about the details of your settlement and those who do probably just want to know these because they are curious and not because they really care.

Joint statements

If your divorce is reasonably amicable, or even if it is a war, there is no reason why the two of you cannot act like mature adults and agree to post simultaneously a concise statement such as “We have decided to divorce.  Our first priority is our children and out of respect for them we will not be airing our differences of Facebook.  We appreciate our friends support and understanding at this very difficult time for our family.”