Separating couples are often blissfully unaware of the consequences that comment posted on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, may have in later proceedings in divorce and children related matters.
Hollie Styles said, ‘In the heat of the moment, when a person is at their most vulnerable, posting or tweeting hurtful remarks about their ex-partner may seem like a good idea and can be a cathartic release for those individuals involved.’
‘However, there are a growing number of cases where these comments are being exhibited as evidence of either unfaithfulness, inappropriate behaviour or other allegations made by an opponent in family law cases.’
‘Parents often appear to forget that social media is often a public forum that can be read by ex-partners and their children but also mutual friends and family members.’
Hollie continued, ‘Our clients are now advised at the outset that any comments on such websites are most unhelpful and that they should avoid the temptation to make their private life public.’
In matters involving children it is common that an absent parent will post comments expressing their pain of being separated from their child, or to criticise the decisions made by the resident parent in relation to the parenting of their child.
The courts are becoming swamped with these exhibits and parents are being encouraged to assure the courts that this type of behaviour will cease once the proceedings are ended. If the comments continue then individuals may face the wrath of the court if they persist in this unhelpful behaviour.
Family law proceedings are private and not for public information. Anyone involved in family proceedings should be made aware that any direct release of information, from these private proceedings into the public domain, could result in an injunction being made against them.
The definition of information is far-reaching and extends to assessment conclusions, valuations, or indeed medical records. Individuals should also be aware that malicious comments may be construed as harassment and criminal proceedings may also be instigated.
Hollie finished, ‘Anything that is published on the internet is able to be located, printed and used in court proceedings, be it civil or criminal.’
‘Often when questioned on the issue of comments individuals express remorse and admit that they acted in the heat of the moment.’
‘My advice would be to avoid all social networking sites until matters are resolved.’