The explosion of social media in recent years and the various different types of social media outlets has important impact for people going through a divorce or separation.
It is common now for Lawyers to undertake detailed searches of the other spouse and investigate whether that spouse has made any publicly available statements on social media that have an impact upon the case. Also, lawyers are now counselling their clients to be cautious as to what they say and what they disclose on social media when undergoing a separation involving children and/or property.
In children’s issues, the impact can be quite profound. Often, parties (when separating) undergo extreme grief and stress. Social media may present as an outlet to a grieved husband or wife to tell friends and associates about the circumstances of the breakdown of their relationship and how the other person is a bad person and is to blame for that breakdown. The language may be very emotive and in some instances can be fuelled by anger, revenge and negative emotions.
In parenting contests, one of the most important factors that the Court looks at is the ability of each parent to separate their own needs from those of their children. Further, it is very important for a parent to show that they support the child’s relationship with the other parent and that they have a reasonable attitude towards the other parent. In other words, the Court views poorly any actions by a parent that seek to denigrate the other parent in the eyes of the children.
In many cases that come before the Family Court, the inability of one parent to support the children’s relationship with the other parent is a deciding factor as to whom the children should have as their primary carer.
We are now seeing in the social media arena many of the comments made by parents being used against them in Court proceedings. For example, a parent who posts on Facebook “ My Husband is the worst Father of all – the children should never see him – he is such a bastard” and having that comment responded to by friends and associates with support is extremely dangerous and foolhardy. That comment could easily be downloaded and used against that parent in subsequent Court proceedings to highlight a negative and poor attitude towards the other party.
We recommend that as soon as one separates, they temporarily close their social media outlets or at least refrain from postings as the early stages of a relationship breakdown can be extremely stressful and difficult.
If you are concerned about anything to do with social media or the internet during your separation, and the impact it can have on proceedings, it is important to speak to a Family Law Solicitor to understand your rights. Contact our team to make an appointment to discuss your situation in a confidential meeting.