Family law matters are extremely sensitive and involve important financial issues as well as personal issues, including those surrounding child custody. Oftentimes the nature of the issues are emotionally volatile leaving the parties angry and in need of a place to vent. But social media, as popular as it is, can be the wrong place to air your frustrations or advertise your lifestyle choices as law enforcement can now gain access to this information. More importantly, social media used as evidence in court can actually be harmful to the outcome of your family law matter. As the best family lawyers Sydney has, we have the answers you need to ensure you always make the right choices when it comes to posting online.
Types of social media used as evidence in court
The statements and photos posted on social media platforms are now being widely used to define the character of parents and family members’ that children are exposed to. In addition, flaunting expensive purchases or other major changes in your financial situation can also lead to significant and difficult issues pertaining to spousal and child support.
In line with the rules of evidence, there are certain
activities and/or statements that parents should never post on social media
accounts because the information could later be used against them to show them
in an unflattering parental light. Types of social media used as evidence in court
proceedings that can harm your family law matters include;
- Showing excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Negative content or photos of the other parent
- Flaunting promiscuous behaviour
- Commenting on the character of the other parent using derogatory language
- False accusations toward the other parent
In addition, if you are dealing with financial issues it is important that you do not post on your social media profile about new employment positions or salary information that is contrary to what you will be producing in district court. Furthermore, if you are claiming significant financial hardship, posting pictures of expensive purchases or gifts, that could be construed as having more income than you do, or support from outside sources can be detrimental to the final financial distribution of assets.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that you are prohibited from disclosing the information pertaining to the details of your family law court issues being disseminated electronically. The Family Law Act section 121 states the following, “…[Section 121] restricts the publication of any accounts of any proceedings or parts of any proceedings or lists of proceedings (subject to permissible exceptions) under the Act that identify the parties or others involved in the case. The restriction applies to a publication, or other dissemination, to the public or a section of the public, and can apply to disclosures online as well as through the media.”
Therefore it is imperative that before you consider placing any of the details of your family court experience online in any format you check with your family law attorney prior to such posting. It is highly likely you will be informed that the information you are considering posting is in violation of the Family Law Act.
There are some very simple guidelines that you can use to assess the information you are considering posting online. Ask yourself the following questions before you hit the post icon;
- Is the information derogatory toward myself or my co-parent?
- Does the statement lend itself toward assassinating the character of the other parent?
- If a judge were to view this picture, what would their first impression be?
- Would the information or photo reflect poorly on my parenting abilities?
- Am I exhibiting any behaviour that could be considered irresponsible?
- Would the court consider this information to be inconsistent with other details that have been previously provided as representing the truth?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then it is best to stop and take a moment before posting the information or photo as this type of social media used as evidence in court will paint an undesirable image and work against you.
Finally, if you find that your soon to be ex-spouse is posting negative or harmful social media content, you should not retaliate in kind. Instead, forward the post, text message or email to your counsel and allow for them to evaluate the situation. Your attorney might want to preserve the information for evidence, or contact the opposing counsel and request the post be removed and request that their client cease and desist from posting any further similar content online.
While it is true that the process of divorce can be emotionally volatile, causing emotions to flare out of control, it will always be best to err on the side of caution when venting on a public forum, as social media used as evidence in court can be harmful to the outcome of your family law matter.
If you find yourself in need of assistance with this, please contact one of our family law team at Owen Hodge Lawyers. We are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation with the best commercial, child support lawyers, or immigration lawyers Sydney on 1800 770 780.