Facebook & Divorce
Essential Do's and Don'ts
During times of separation and divorce, tensions often run high. These times are often fraught with intense emotions, and if left unchecked, these emotions can lead to potential trouble for you, and your family law matter.
Communicating with your partner during these times, whether in person, by text message, through social media, or email, must be done in a calm, and professional manner. Oversharing can be too easy when disclosing personal information in these instances, and can happen as fast as a push of a button, or rhetorical snide remark.
To avoid potential missteps, it is beneficial to take that extra second and think before you act. Whether speaking directly to your partner or to a social media audience, every word you say may impact you, your children, or your family law case, in a potentially negative way.
Here are a essential few simple “dos and don’ts’ when it comes to managing your digital presence during a separation or divorce:
DO Read Over Messages Before Sending Them
Sending an emotional message may feel like a relief in the moment, but it can have serious repercussions in Court. Take a step back and ask yourself if what you intend to send is something you would be okay with a judge seeing in Court. Anything you send can be traced back to you, and the long-term consequences may not be worth the short-term satisfaction.
ALWAYS take the “high” road
No matter the attitude or comments of your partner, you should always endeavour to keep yourself above being drawn into verbal or social media "wars". Communicating with your partner in times of separation or divorce should be approached in a professional manner. It is tempting to mud-sling, particularly with children involved, but stay away from this type of communication. Always take the “high” road approach to communication, whether in person or digitally, no matter how difficult it may seem.
DON'T Forward Emails from Your Lawyer
Passing on communication from your lawyer to others may waive your privilege to keep conversations with your lawyer private and confidential. Only send lawyer-client communications on to others if it is first approved by your lawyer.
DO Use Social Networking Sites Cautiously
According the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are now approximately 24 million Australians, with 15 million of those having a Facebook account. This means 62.5% of the total Australian population has a Facebook account. Accessing Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr is easier than ever via your computer, smartphone, tablet, or laptop. You should assume everything you post online can be accessed by your partner’s lawyer, regardless of security features or privacy settings. Remember, that once something is online, it is essentially impossible to fully remove it.
DON'T Break Into Your Spouse’s Personal Information
Using electronic surveillance programs to “check-up” on your spouse may seem well-intentioned and harmless to a degree, but the fruits of such efforts are potentially useless when it comes to the Court of law. The same often applies to unauthorized access to your spouse’s email accounts. In truth, these actions may subject you to civil and criminal penalties, and further, this information may be inadmissible in Court.
DO Secure Your Devices and Accounts
If your spouse knows or could guess your passwords, it is time for these details to change. Reset all passwords on your computers, email accounts, smartphones, tablets, and other online accounts. Often some of these features “automatically” let you sign in. It may be wise to refrain from pressing the "remember me" button. It is also a good idea to turn off the location settings on your mobile device. Be sure to “unfriend” persons on Facebook that may be giving information to your partner, and change your privacy settings.
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