A Cautionary Tale of How Social Media's Effects on Family Law Proceedings

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For many people, updating their Facebook page, sending a tweet or keeping their blogs fresh are easy ways to stay in touch and keep others informed. In the context of a Family Law matter however, extra care should be exercised.

But this is personal…

Sometimes people are less careful than they ought to be. These publications, while perhaps intended to be read by certain people only, may be accessed by an unintended audience. Care should be taken at all times to pause and reflect – does it matter who reads this? If it does matter, then don’t post it or tweet it or send it.

When does it matter in family law?

In cases about children, the court is asked to make decisions in the best interests of the children. Communications in social media, inconsistent with the formal story being told in Court by a party can be very damaging.

More traditional communications like emails and text messages are frequently attached to Affidavits. Increasingly, social media postings are proving to be fertile ground for cross examination.

Sometimes a parent may also be subject to criticism for failing to properly monitor the cyber activities of their children.

Do I have to turn off?

Common sense and caution are a pretty good guide. The old adage about being careful before you put something in writing applies just as much here – think before you post/tweet or update. And if you are involved in a parenting dispute, ask yourself is it ok if my former partner sees this? What about my kids? What about the Judge? And what about my lawyer?