#Thinktwice before you Tweet! Social Media and Family Law
With the tap of a finger, it is now faster than ever to share our lives, thoughts and feelings with the world. Whilst there are so many benefits to social media such as having the ability to keep in touch with family and friends we may not otherwise be able to and having a platform to express our views, there are also consequences of sharing our lives on social media that we must bear in mind.
If you find yourself in the midst of family law proceedings, your case may ultimately be damaged by your (historical and/or current) social media posts. As most would be aware, Kanye has recently posted a series of inflammatory tweets regarding his wife, Kim Kardashian, and ‘momager’, Kris Jenner. If it has not already, it may soon be impressed upon Kanye the importance of turning your mind to what you do in fact post on social media; as any post, comment, tag, tweet and the like may be used as evidence against you to demonstrate concerns for your mental health, to highlight your spending habits, extreme views or partying antics.
There are strict rules around what evidence can be put before the court, however, due to the treatment of laws of evidence in family law (particularly in relation to parenting matters) social media content is often found admissible in court proceedings and can be taken into account by the court when determining the outcome of a case.
Consequently, social media posts may present somewhat of an issue for a party (and their credibility as a witness) if, for example, that party is:
1. Asserting a de-facto relationship did not exist and there are postings of them and their ‘friend’ plastered across social media with the hashtag #loveofmylife;
2. Alleging financial difficulties and is then seen showcasing their excessive expenditure on Instagram; or
3. Posting about their #wildnightatthestrippers whilst the children are supposedly in their care.
Regrettably, some clients have discovered the hard way that even if their social media accounts are private, these posts have still found their way into their former partner’s Affidavit before the court and used as evidence against them.
In addition to that, court documents may be prepared in family court proceedings, either by your former spouse or by an independent person such as a court expert, which you find inflammatory, untrue, biased or downright ludicrous. Some of us might not #thinktwice about posting the document/s onto our social media pages coupled with our thoughts on the matter, or for some parties, posting their ill-fated experience with a particular court expert to an online forum.
It is imperative to note that it is an offence under section 121 of the Family Law Act to publish “by other electronic means or otherwise [disseminate] to the public or a section to the public” any account or part of a court proceeding. If found guilty of this offence, a person may be fined or imprisoned for up to one year.
With the above in mind, it is imperative that you #thinktwice before you post on social media, as the consequences of a post may ultimately impact the outcome of your case.