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19
JUL
2018

Social Media & Family Law – A Dangerous Mix

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Social media and family law can be a dangerous mix, and if used incorrectly, can impact many areas of your case including parenting, property, spousal maintenance and child support. Like it or not, social media plays a huge role in today’s society, and with that, it is no surprise that the use of social media as evidence in family law proceedings is becoming more and more prevalent.

For many people, social media is an outlet to express one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences, both negative and positive. However, it is important to remember that anything you post on social media may be used as evidence against you in Court. Although many examples of improper social media use are obvious, some may not be so obvious and can play a big role in the outcome of your case.

Some examples of how your social media posts can impact your family law proceedings include:

  • Posting photographs of your fancy new car, lavish holiday or designer clothing when spousal maintenance and property settlements are being disputed;

 

  • Posting photographs of yourself that disclose dangerous, risky or inappropriate behaviour when future parenting arrangements are being disputed;

 

  • Posting a status announcing your new partner when you are not yet divorced;

 

  • Posting a derogatory and inappropriate status about your ex-spouse during a parenting matter can damage both your character and the judge’s view on your attitude towards parenting.

 

  • Posting about sensitive topics on such as mental illness, suicide, self-harm and family violence on online support groups may be relied on as evidence as to your ability to care for your children.

 

In  the case of Longsdorf v Granger, the father used evidence from Facebook to prove a relationship between the mother and a new partner.  Despite the mother stating that “what is on Facebook is not real”, the judge disagreed and made the comment that the cross-examination of the mother in relation to the Facebook comments “caused more embarrassment and a look of dread and being caught out than I have ever seen on a witness’ face”.

It is also important to note that Section 121 of the Family Law Act prohibits the publication, including by electronic means, of information relating to family law proceedings, which identifies any involved parties. If convicted of this offence, you may face up to 12 months imprisonment. So, a simple status update venting that your ex-spouse has taken you to court for custody of your children can land you in hot water with the law.

Remember –  DON’T post, tweet, share or send anything online or by electronic means that you wouldn’t want the judge to read. It sounds simple, but when feelings of stress, anger, sadness and confusion are present, the mix between social media and family law can quickly become dangerous.

Sharon Payne Family Lawyers specialise in all areas of family law, including property, parenting and divorce. If you feel you need advice and are concerned about your social media footprint and its possible impact on your potential matter please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on Ph: 8626 2670 who will be more than happy to assist.