Social Media and Family Law – what you need to know

Amanda Malinowsky ||

Going through a separation can be extremely difficult to deal with, thanks to the significant emotional stress and/or court proceedings to deal with. Because of this, it is not uncommon for a party to turn to social media to vent their grievances in relation to their family law matter. One of the reasons people will often do this is to get some emotional support or even advice in dealing with a really difficult time in one’s life. Unfortunately, depending on what you say in such a public arena, it can also be very damaging to your case and, in particular in relation to parenting matters, to you and your child/ren in the future.

It is important when taking to social media to remember the following:

·         If you have social media accounts, it is a good idea to ensure that you change your passwords following separation, particularly if your former partner was aware of your passwords. A change in passwords will protect your privacy and further ensure that your former partner cannot access your account and make disparaging posts or comments on your behalf.

·         If you intend to make a disparaging or negative comment about your former partner, it is quite likely that this information will be funnelled back to your former partner and/or their family. Regularly, in family law proceedings, Facebook posts, Instagram posts and other social media posts are annexed to or tendered to the Court in support of allegations that you are not prepared to facilitate a relationship between your child/ren, or a party in attempting to alienate a child from one of their parents.

Before you post, make sure that you think about how an objective person, who does not know you, or the other party would view the post. It would also be a good idea to rest on the post and come back to it the day after before deciding if you really want to post it.

·         You should also ensure that your immediate family, friends or new partner are careful in what they post. It is not going to assist your matter or your case in Court, if you have made negative and disparaging comments on social media about your former partner. These posts are often accessed by the other party and utilised in proceedings to show the overall character of your social network.

·         Another issue to consider with social media posts is that often the post will provide an indication of your whereabouts through the metadata and/or location data. This can be concerning if there are serious matters of family violence in your case and you do not wish for your former partner and/or their family to have any indication as to your whereabouts.

·         If you are currently engaged in Court proceedings in relation to family law matters, including parenting and property, please ensure you do not make any posts or upload any memes or comments disparaging the Court, the process and/or the Judge dealing with your matter.  Again, you can be sure that these posts would become available to the court.

·         Be careful to ensure that any posts including photos are of a tasteful nature. The last thing you need is for your former partner to provide distasteful posts that you have made to the court and ask the court to have regard to the post when considering your lifestyle and the impact your lifestyle has on the children and/or your capacity to parent.

If you are separated and are seeking family law advice or you have concerns  in relation to social media in the context of your parenting and property matters, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Coleman Greig’s Family Law team or Coleman Greig’s Family Accredited Specialists today.


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