Social media sites such as Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram and even
professional networking sites such as LinkedIn are
increasingly changing the way family law matters are conducted in
Social media has made it possible and easy to keep in touch with
family and friends at any instant. But it can also mean it is
easier for others to access our personal and private information
including the other party to your family law proceedings.
Parties in family law proceedings may be able to use social
media content as evidence in Court. Family lawyers may also check
social media content especially in children matters to check what
has been said by their own client or by other parties in the
The last thing that a party would want to come up in the middle
of a bitterly fought and contentious family court proceeding about
who should care for the children is to have a
Facebook, Twitter or
Instagram post showing that while they were
supposed to look after their child, they were having a wild party
at home, with the children in the background!
Equally, if Family Lawyers have a dollar for the number of times
that a party in Family Court proceedings present themselves as a
loving, sensitive and caring spouse, partner or parent while their
social media post includes expletive laden abusive comments!
Social media "whoopsies" are not limited to children
issues cases. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are also
increasingly being used in property matters in the Family Court.
Social media posting can be analysed to work out business
relationships, where assets are kept and what each party has been
Parties often forget that if they have mutual friend, the
ex-partner or spouse can easily see what is posted on Facebook if
the settings have not been changed. Similarly, it may be deceitful
for parties to suggest that they are destitute and have limited
income earning capacity when their LinkedIn profiles presents them
as highly successful professionals.
How does this apply to you?
Your former spouse's tendency to indiscriminately publish
information online may benefit your case, but remember that the
same applies to you, and that your former spouse or their family
lawyer (or even your former spouses' friends and family) may
well be monitoring your online presence, acquisitions and
Remember too that any information published on social media
sites is potentially accessible to everyone (even on the most
private settings) and may be very difficult to permanently
Social media and children
Social media and technologies like Skype and
Whatsapp are a great way for separated or divorced
parents to keep in touch with their children. However, using
Facebook or Twitter to express your support for a particular
arrangement for the children may be seriously detrimental to your
In a relocation case, the Family Court refused an Application by
a Father for an order that the Mother and child be returned New
Zealand. One of the factors informing the Court's decision to
refuse the Father's order was that he had agreed with the
Mother on Facebook that the child should live with the Mother.
Denigrating your spouse online is a very bad idea. Posting
comments such as "useless father" or "hopeless
loser" clearly demonstrate to a Court the absence of a
cooperative parenting relationship and an unwillingness to promote
a meaningful relationship between the children and BOTH parents.
Facebook is also often a forum for more serious verbal abuse
between former partners, all of which may be admissible in Court
proceedings and of course potentially available for your children
Privacy Protection for parties in Family Court proceedings
Many people do not know this but parties and media agencies and
anyone else who comes into details of Family Court proceedings are
prohibited from publishing anything that identifies the parties,
the children, witnesses and anyone else who is related to or
associated with a party to the proceedings. Such publication is an
offence which is punishable, upon a conviction, by imprisonment up
to a year.
Avoid making a general post on your Facebook page and a video on
Youtube where everyone is told that your lying cheating wife has
stolen your child away from you!
Lesson/Reminder of the Day
It only takes an instant to share a thought on social media. So
think before you type! Particularly when you have had a few drinks!
If you wouldn't want a judge to read what you have posted
– don't post it!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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