Wednesday, 3 February 2016

#instafail - Posting on Social Media during your Family Law case

The rise and rise of social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and WeChat has presented significant challenges for lawyers practising in all areas of law, but particularly in family law.

Social media sites are more and more attractive to people wanting to vent their anger, frustration or disillusionment with what is going on in their lives, and this is reflected in what practitioners see.

Often nowadays instant messages, Facebook chats and emails between parties are submitted to Court as part of the evidence gathering process.

It is particularly dangerous for people engaged in negotiations or in Court proceedings to be continuing to post about their situation on social media.

Posting Court documents on social media can be a criminal offence under the Family Law Act 1975, whilst discussion of proceedings or children involved in proceedings may contravene family law or intervention orders.

These types of breaches can attract serious penalties including periods of imprisonment!

Most of the material posted on social media is not quite as clear-cut as this, but can still cause very serious damage to a case.

If a person, for example, posts about their drinking habits or who they are socialising with, allegations of inappropriate conduct with children might be raised.

Delicate and already damaged feelings may be further hurt by frequent posts concerning new partners, resulting in an escalation of hostilities and tension in family law negotiations.

Even posts that do not directly relate to a case may indicate somebody’s state of mind, preparedness to compromise or wanting to ‘give up’.

For these reasons, and very many more, it is a golden rule of family law to minimise and ideally cease social media posting at least during your case.

At the very least, parties should be aware of the risks and lawyers should advise of the risks, so that people can make informed decisions about their actions.

To speak more with our family lawyers about these types of issues, including what social media posts can be used as evidence and how, call our Richard Hamilton, Senior Family Lawyer, on 03 9614 7111, or email

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