Social media and family law

It may be tempting to take Kanye West as your role model, and use social media to both attack your ex-spouse and vent about your hurt, disappointment, and hatred for all that is happening to you during a family law dispute. But be warned – in Australia this type of conduct will have very real implications for your family law case.

Parenting orders  

Parenting orders are made by the Family Court to determine the parenting arrangements for your children if you break up with your spouse.  These binding orders impact who the children will live with, how much time they will spend with each parent, how the children will communicate with their parents and other aspects of your child’s care, such as health and education.  In making parenting orders, the Court’s primary consideration is always the best interests of each child.

Digital evidence such as emails, text messages, social media posts, videos, photos, and online comments is being increasingly relied on by parties in Court proceedings to support their case for more control over and time with children.

Examples of social media posts that have been found relevant to such proceedings include: 

  • Posts about a parent’s illicit drug use or excessive alcohol consumption, which may impact on their ability to parent; 
  • Posts containing threats of violence towards the other parent or the children of the relationship; and 
  • Posts about a parent’s criminal activity or criminal associates. 

To get advice about how social media use can affect your parenting orders and what you can do to protect your position, call us now on 1300 654 590.

Financial support 

Evidence gathered from social media posts has also been used in family law cases to expose a party’s true financial situation.  As part of the financial settlement between the parties, the Court may make orders about spousal support.  During these financial proceedings, each party is asked to make full and frank disclosure to the Court about their sources of earning, income, property, and other financial resources.

Social media evidence that the Court has relied upon to make financial orders include: 

  • Photographs of expensive holidays taken by a party or luxury purchases by them that go towards a party’s ability to provide financial support;
  • LinkedIn posts by a party revealing employment history or business activities that should have been disclosed as relevant to the financial proceedings; and  
  • Posts about a party’s relationship status. 

In short, when using social media, assume your ex-partner is keeping tabs on your posts and will use them against you. 

To get advice about how your financial settlement may be affected by social media use and what you can do to protect your position, call us now on 1300 654 590.

Prohibition on publishing 

Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) prohibits a person involved in family law proceedings from publishing any information about a case (including pictures or voice recordings) that are likely to identify a person connected to the proceedings to some or all the public. This information includes:

  • Names; 
  • Addresses; 
  • Work place; 
  • Physical descriptions; 
  • Occupation; 
  • Relationships; 
  • Beliefs and interests; or 
  • Property they own or are associated with. 

For the purposes of this section, ‘publishing’ includes social media posts. 

If you create an online post capable of identifying the parties to a family law proceeding then criminal penalties apply, including imprisonment.  At the very least, this behaviour will negatively affect your case. 

Be prepared before you post. To get advice about how social media posts may affect your family law proceedings, call us now on 1300 654 590.

How we can help 

We hope this article is helpful and you have read it before you click ‘post’.  Exercising discipline and discretion during a contentious family law matter will help your case.  If you are being encouraged to post on social media by friends and family or want to respond to a post or comment by your ex-partner about the case, don’t.   

If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities resulting from a family breakdown, call us on 1300 654 590.  We will put you in touch with a great lawyer who will answer your questions and help solve your problem.

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Disha Mehta

Disha Mehta

With experience in assisting separating spouses, executors and beneficiaries and business owners,...

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