Family Law & Social Media
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin allow users to instantly publish their activities, thoughts and beliefs. As a result, it has become increasingly common for these posts to end up being used as evidence in court proceedings.
In fact, social media evidence can often be a quick and cost-effective way of providing evidence in support of a disputed fact.
Take for example the employee that calls in sick. Their Facebook then shows that they’re enjoying a tropical holiday somewhere. Sipping cocktails on the beach in a bikini (with a time and date stamp) certainly contradicts the employee’s email that they’re home in bed with the flu.
Take also for example, the ex that says they can’t afford to pay child support or spousal maintenance or that doesn’t admit to being re-partnered. It’s going to be hard for the Court to accept their evidence when their Instagram shows-off flashy engagement rings, declarations of undying love, extensive travel; cars and fine dining. #liveyourbestlife may ultimately become #thejudgeisnotanidiot
Similarly, the ex that says they haven’t worked in years only to be brought down by their LinkedIn profile showing their extensive experience in paid employment.
In family law matters, evidence obtained through social media can be particularly relevant in the context of parenting matters where the best interests of the children are the paramount consideration of the court.
Screenshots of posts, comments and messages showing derogatory comments regarding either the children or the other parent may be used as evidence of contravention of parenting orders, or to support a contention that the party posting the material neither comprehends nor is willing to act in a way that is child-focused or appropriate.
Similarly, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat photographs may reveal the children’s parents to be behaving irresponsibly or neglectfully.
It is also an offence under Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 to publish by electronic means (or disseminate to the public) anything that would identify a party to the proceedings, or a person related to or associated with a party to proceedings.
This means that a party to family law proceedings, who gives in to an urge to vent about their ex or family law matters on social media, may expose themselves to being charged with an offence under the Family Law Act.
Please remember, social media is not always your friend in family law matters. However, if you are a party that engages in these behaviours on social media, then it may ultimately become the best friend of your ex’s lawyer!