Social media is extremely popular as it allows you to easily connect with family and friends all over the world. What you may not be aware of is that what you post on social media may affect the outcome of your parenting proceedings.
It is important to remember that the Family Court has allowed photos and other material published on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to be introduced to the Court as evidence to indicate the credibility of witnesses or the suitability of parents. Posting photos of your child not wearing a helmet whilst riding a bike or of you drinking with friends or family may seem innocent but it may also detrimentally affect your ability to spend time with your children.
Another reason to avoid social media during parenting proceedings is that you must usually participate in compulsory mediation before your case is heard by the court. Posting negatively about your situation or your former partner may reduce the likelihood of success of this mediation. This could result in lengthy and costly Court proceedings which might have otherwise been resolved. In addition, if your case is heard by the Court, screenshots of these comments, messages and posted material may be presented as evidence.
Finally, the law prohibits you from publishing any information which identifies a person who is involved in the parenting proceedings. You may not realise that social media is considered to be a publication. The Court may use screenshots of these posts to support an injunction, which is a Court order prohibiting publishing such content. These screenshots may also be used to demonstrate when there has been a breach of Orders made by the Court.
Things to remember:
- Do not use social media to vent. Damages for defamation can result –in addition to the effects outlined above.
- Privacy settings do not prevent those on your "friends" list from sharing the content you post.
- Consider the content you are posting and the effect this may have on your children in the future.
- Think about whether what you post may be misinterpreted by another person.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, do not say it at all, especially online.