A separation or divorce can be one of the hardest times of your life. You’re inevitably going to feel hurt, even angry. But these well-justified emotions can often result in clouded judgement and questionable decisions. Social media can often become an outlet for remarks and accusations. Although you might feel a release after posting, everything on social media can be saved and screenshotted. But by avoiding the following, you can help your separation move forward without unnecessary complications.
Updating friends and family about your Court case by public (or even private) posts on social media might seem totally harmless. It is your matter after all. But the Court doesn’t see it that way. If you publish information or provide an account on social media that can identify any of the below, you are breaking the law:
And it’s not just names that you’re not allowed to mention. The Family Law Act gives some examples of things you might not be able to say, but it’s not a conclusive list and some of the examples, like someone’s “style of dress” or “recreational interests” are obviously very broad!
Now, the above can have serious penalties. It’s possible to even go to jail, although it’s not always something that’s prosecuted. If you say something like, “I took her down in court today,” or sum up what was said to a close friend or relative, people might not care as much as if (for instance) you published a transcript on Facebook and an account of what happened including their names. But technically, it’s still probably going to count as ‘identifying parties to a proceeding’. Even though you might not get called out on it, it’s certainly not a risk you want to take!
Venting about your ex or other parties on the other side online is certainly tempting. But especially in parenting matters, your attitudes towards the other parent can potentially make a huge difference to the outcome. I’ve seen cases where people lose credibility because of accusations and comments about not only the other parent, but the other party’s lawyer as well (and sometimes even the Judge!).
It’s easy to get frustrated during a separation – it’s a very emotional time. But any negative comments or accusations you make on social media may very well eventually get back to the Court and you could have ‘egg on your face’, so to speak. You’ll probably look bad, and that’s not at all going to help your case. Instead, before posting, think about how you’d feel if it were read back to you, and maybe save your frustrations for the ear of a trusted friend.
You’d be surprised how often people post things that are inappropriate without realising the potential consequences. For example, publically posting an invitation on Facebook for a 1 year old’s birthday party saying “BYO alcohol” for a party “till late” is probably not a wise move (but it does happen). It’s not hard to argue that it’s totally inappropriate for a children’s party! Needless to say, comments along those lines might very well be damaging in Court when the Judge is considering which parent a child should live with.
When children are involved, one of the Court’s duties is to make sure that children are protected from unacceptable risks of harm. Even if it doesn’t seem directly related to your separation, when it comes to kids, you can be sure the Court will take it incredibly seriously. So don’t take pictures of you and your mates enjoying some ‘herbal remedies’ with your children in the background and post them online for all to see! With six degrees of separation, the photos usually find their way to the wrong people and can damage your case.
During separation, the best thing you can do when on social media is “don’t mention the war”.
Because once it’s online, chances are it could very well come back to haunt you.