Separation can be difficult and it can be very tempting to vent your frustrations over social media.
This can be especially so when you are going through the stress and angst of separation, but before you hit “post” consider the ramifications, and remember, once something is posted it’s public and may, in some circumstances, be used as evidence in litigation.
Always assume that everything you post online can be read by anyone and everyone.
Even if you remove a post it does not mean that someone has not taken a screen shot of it or that it cannot be recovered (even by subpoena) at a later date.
Our advice is to avoid social media altogether while you are going through a family law matter. But if you do keep your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts consider taking these precautions:-
- Take a long, hard look at your connections and followers. There will always be someone who might show the other party posts or tweets that you don’t want them to see or who may follow you for the express purpose of reporting to the other party.
- Don’t post anything defamatory, derogatory or negative about the other party. While it may feel good to vent at the time, I guarantee it won’t feel as good when a Judge is reading it in Court.
- Be careful of what you post about yourself or even posts that friends or family have posted about or tagged you in. Photos with captions like “heading out for a big night, going to get blind” don’t give the Court a good impression of you, especially in parenting matters.
- Don’t repost abusive, disparaging or nasty posts about your ex partner or encourage family or friends to do so. This can look just as bad in Court as if you had posted it yourself.
- Never post online when you are angry or upset. Take a self-imposed “time out” from social media and give yourself time to calm down.
The best tip is before you post something ask yourself “how does this reflect on me?” then imagine a Judge reading it.
Family law matters are a very sensitive area of law and the Family Law Act contains very strict rules about what information can be made public or published.
In essence, the Family Law Act was designed to protect the privacy of parties and children who are going through any family law proceedings.
While you may be aware of many “family law cases” what you might not realise is that before they are published they have been anonymised to hide the identity of the parties. The only identities that have not been changed are those of the Judge, lawyers and counsel.
Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 restricts the publication of any account of Family Court proceedings that may lead to the identification of the parties, witnesses or children involved in a proceeding.
Breaches of this rule against publication, by any means including Facebook, Twitter or other social media can have very serious consequences and is a criminal offence with significant penalties.
This rule also extends to showing Court documents to family, friends or associates. This does not prevent you from discussing the proceedings or what may have occurred but just be mindful.
If you are involved in any family law proceeding it is extremely important that you do not publish any facts or information about that proceeding or the outcome no matter how tempting it may be.