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12 December 2019

My Facebook is private – can’t I write what I like about my horrible ex?

The answer to that question is ‘yes you can’, but if you are involved in a family law matter, you shouldn’t.

The answer to that question is ‘yes you can’, but, if you are involved in a family law matter, you shouldn’t.

This is because online material is routinely considered by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia as evidence in contested parenting and property matters.

Parties’ own social media posts have been used against them in many cases.

In the most serious of cases, a parent who pursues a social media campaign against their former spouse may find that the Court will order that parent spend no time with the children or their time may be limited or supervised.

Posting about drinking and taking drugs or bashing people will damage your case.

Criticising the other parent, their family members, making threats and vilifying the Court or its officers online can have disastrous results for you as you move through the family law system.

Many relocation cases (where the Court is deciding whether a parent can move away and take the children) feature evidence about the hostile environment created for one parent and the children in a community where the other parent has bullied or humiliated the other online. That evidence is often decisive in terms of whether the judge allows the parent to shift or not.

Be conscious all the time that online material is considered evidence under the Commonwealth Evidence Act and the Family Law Act. In child related proceedings, the rules of evidence are quite relaxed and in most cases anything you or the other side have posted can find its way to the judge and will influence the decision he or she makes.

Even in property matters where the laws of evidence are more strictly applied, pictures from Facebook of people working on job sites have been used against them to show they are not unemployed as alleged.

Photographs of houses with comments about the fabulous sale price achieved have been found to require an investigation about whether the seller and the valuer had dishonesty colluded.

A party who boasted on-line about how selling a car had ‘beaten the court order’ resulted in a sentence of imprisonment for that party.

A good family lawyer will help you develop a strategy for working your way through your family law matter and this must include how to manage your online presence and interactions.

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This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising from this publication, please let us know.

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