Social Media and the Impact on Family Law Matters

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all’

In today’s society, social media is used, in varying degrees, by most adults. For many people social media is used to update friends and family about major life events and day to day events.

Social media is also commonly used by people to express frustrations in their lives. These posts can include intimate details of their personal lives including but not limited to:

  1. relationship breakdowns;
  2. private information concerning their current or ex partners;
  3. complaints or derogatory comments about their ex-partners;
  4. videos, and images as to excessive consumption of alcohol or reckless behaviour;
  5. screenshots of private messages; and
  6. posts about legal proceedings.

However, such posts can have ongoing ramifications on family law matters.

Social media posts are able to be used as evidence for the following:

  1. your character;
  2. your lifestyle;
  3. your parenting abilities;
  4. your conduct and attitude towards other persons including the other parent.

It should be taken into consideration that social media platforms are readily accessible by all, including children, and that any commentary or posts made in respect to family law matters may be seen by the children involved in the matter and cause lasting impacts.

Posting details of your separation and or family law matter may also put you at risk of breaching section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)[1] if you share any details of your family law matter online such as:

  1. descriptions of persons of persons involved;
  2. addresses;
  3. pseudonyms;
  4. property details;
  5. photographs of the children;
  6. text messages between the parties or from the children; or
  7. copies of court documents or information contained in such documents.

In the case of Lackey and Mae [2013], the father and his family posted on social media and made statements about the mother of the children such as her being a ‘liar, manipulator, dad hater, child neglecter, child abuser, and stalker’ and derogatory comments about the Court, the Independent Children’s Lawyer, and expert witnesses.

The Judge with carriage of the matter referred to the father as using social media ‘as a weapon’ and noted that such use of social media is a ‘regrettable common practice’.

The father was found to be in breach of section 121 of the Family Law Act and was Ordered by the Court to remove all posts and was prohibited from posting anything further about the mother of the children or the court case. The Australian Federal Police was provided a copy of the Court Orders and were asked to monitor the father’s social media for two (2) years to ensure that the father was complying with the Court Order.

If you are going to continue using social media to post about aspects of your life and or your children, you should ensure that such posts are appropriate, and under no circumstances should you discuss any aspects of your family law matter.

At Conditsis Lawyers, our family lawyers can assist you with any issues that may arise as a result of the use of social media in your Family Law matter.

Call to book your free first consultation on 02 4324 5688

[1] Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that it is an offence for any person to publish or disseminate to the public any account of proceedings that provides information capable of identifying the parties to the dispute.

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