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Social Media and family law – think before you type!
In the 21st century, social media has evolved into a fundamental pillar of communication. It has revolutionised the way we do business, the way we find and share information and the way we engage with friends and family. Not surprisingly, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presents a unique set of challenges for the legal profession.
The risks of social media
Social media can significantly impact decisions made in a courtroom. For example, you may be photographed at a function when you were supposed to be taking care of your children or you may post a picture or update you status showing an extravagant purchase when you have declared to the court that you do not have money and need financially support from your former partner.
In each of these situations (and many more) your online postings could seriously prejudice your family law case as your former spouse or their solicitor may be monitoring your online presence and activities, as 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 remove.
Generally, any postings online should be considered the same as email or text messages. Social media evidence can include photographs, status updates, people’s location at a certain time and direct communications to a person’s social media accounts. This information can be used as evidence in court. For example, in family law cases, derogatory comments posted about your ex-partner in custody cases, can be tendered in court to reveal your attitude and true feelings about the other person and used to contradict your sworn evidence. In a recent Family Court decision, the court refused an application by a Father for an order that the child be returned from New Zealand by the Mother. One of the factors the court considered in refusing to order that the child be returned to Australia was that the Father had agreed with the Mother on Facebook that the child should live with the Mother.
What should you do?
Resist the urge to respond to negative or denigrating online comments whether made by your former partner or a member of his/her family or friends. Remember, if you reciprocate and respond in a similarly negative or abusive manner, it will be hard for your solicitor to minimise or eliminate the prejudice to your case if evidence of this kind of behaviour is before the Court.
For confidential advice and assistance about your family law situation, contact Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in family law, Tuskeen Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 3009 8444.
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances because the application of laws and regulations undergo frequent changes. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact rostroncarlyle.comTuskeen Jacobs