Sharing the highs and lows of our lives on social media keeps us connected to family and friends. However, social media poses many complications in family law disputes and must be used cautiously so as not to hinder possible outcomes.
Impact of Social Media in Family Law Disputes
Do Not Share Confidential Information About Your Dispute
Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) prohibits a person from publishing or communicating confidential information relating to court proceedings. This includes identifying the other party, a person related or associated to that party, or a witness. It extends to identifying a person by way of personal characteristics such as a residential address, physical description, employment, relationship to other parties, recreational interests, or by property the person owns or associates with.
Breach of this section could influence a Judge’s behavioural assessment of the party. However, consequences of breach also extend beyond the family law dispute. It is an indictable offence and the party may face imprisonment up to 12 months’
Anything you Post, Share or Comment can be Used as Evidence Against You
Your family law dispute may go before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Posts and comments on social media can be used in court to verify facts.
Social media posts can be used as evidence in the following ways:
- Social media content defaming a spouse.
- Photos proving the location of assets.
- Content establishing the length of a de facto relationship.
- LinkedIn accounts showing employment status and income.
- Screenshots of private messages.
- Photos or videos of a spouse engaging in anti-social behaviour.
- Anti-social behaviour, such as use of illicit drugs or alcohol, can be evidence against a parents suitability in a custody dispute.
Do Not Delete Social Media Content
Inflammatory content can be posted in the heat of moment while you are in a high emotional state. However, you should not attempt to delete online material. It is easy for the other party to screenshot social media content for evidence at any time. Deleting material may be considered tampering with evidence and further hinder your case.
More Helpful Tips
Here are some easy tips when involved in a family law dispute
- Discontinue social media use until finalisation of the court case.
- You may use social media for gathering evidence. However, avoid actively commenting on social media.
- Update privacy settings on social media.
- Increase online security by changing passwords to prevent your spouse from having access to your accounts.
- Avoid posting content that reveals your location.
- Do not publicly discuss information about spouse, child, or court proceedings.
- Do not post, comment or message any defamatory content.