Social Media and Family Law

In the age of social media, there is a growing platform of people sharing everything about their lives online. This can be a tool used for good, providing people with a sense of community and understanding. However, in regard to family law matters, it is crucial to carefully monitor, and even stay off social media whilst in the midst of proceedings. Although seemingly harmless, there is a growing prevalence of social media being used as evidence in court proceedings which can affect the opinion and outcome of the case.

In the Family Law Act 1975 Section 121, it is stated that anyone who disseminates information regarding:

  • A party to the proceedings
  • A person who is related to, or associated with, a party to the proceedings or
  • A witness

commits an indictable offence punishable by a year in jail.

As well as this, any posts that demonstrate inappropriate behaviour can also be used in court to attest to you being an unfit parent. If your post can be misconstrued to sound like you are denigrating the other party or that you are an unsuitable parent, it’s better to not post. And beware, even if you have deleted a post or message, there is a chance someone may have saved it, and they can be retrieved by police if necessary.

An example is the case of Lackey & Mae [2013] FMCAfam 284, the father regularly denigrated the court, Independent Children's Lawyer, and mother regarding the legal proceedings which resulted in a breach of the Family Law Act 1975 Section 121. He was ordered to take down all his posts and he and his immediate family were restrained from posting anymore. This outcome and evidence significantly affected the judgment, where the mother got sole parental responsibility for the children.

In order to maintain your safety and security on social media while undergoing legal proceedings, be sure to:

  • Never post anything to do with the process as even the most obscure comment can be used as evidence.
  • Not discuss legal proceedings via private messages as they can be recorded.
  • Think carefully about the images and messages you post/send and how they present you and your character.
  • Not share any private messages between you and your partner.
  • Not update relationship statuses on platforms such as Facebook.

Should you wish to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8999 9809.

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