Social Media – Think before you ‘post’
A parent tells the Court ‘I love my children’, ‘I will do anything for them’, ‘Their wellbeing is my no. 1 priority’, ‘I would never do anything to put them in harm’s way’. The other partner shows the Court Facebook, Twitter or Instagram photos and posts of that person throwing a wild party with the children in the background (or even the foreground) and comments such as ‘Sick night’ or ‘Hungover this morning’ or a picture of a Vodka bottle with the caption ‘I can’t feel my face when I’m with you’.
A parent tells the Court that they are destitute with little or no income. The other party shows the Court Facebook and Instagram photos and posts of that person on expensive holidays, driving a new and expensive car or going out to dinners and bars regularly.
It is very difficult for a parent to explain to the Court that the social media posts are nonsense and that the evidence they had previously provided to the Court is correct. Were you lying then, or are you lying now?
Mutual friends may be an unsuspecting accomplice when an ex-partner or spouse is trying to see what the other has posted on social media if privacy settings haven’t been changed. Family Lawyers are, increasingly, checking their client’s social media profiles and posts to ensure that what they are being told is actually correct, especially when it comes to matters relating to children.
The Court is very much focussed on the ‘best interests of the children’ and seeing posts which denigrate one or the other parent demonstrates to the Court that there is an unwillingness to ‘promote a meaningful relationship between the children and BOTH parents’ but will also take into consideration the agreement reached between parents. In a recent case, a father’s application to have his children returned to New Zealand was not granted by the Family Court because the mother was able to show the court a Facebook post by the father that he had agreed that the children should live with mother.
Did you know that publishing ANY details about Family Court proceedings which identify the parties, the children and witnesses or anyone else related to the proceedings is an offence which is punishable by law and can attract up to one year imprisonment?
Beware of the posts which tell everyone about how your lying and manipulative ex-wife has stolen your children away or taken all of your assets leaving you with nothing.
Social media posts can be an excellent source of information and can be analysed to see business relationships, where and what assets you may own and your movements in general. A click of a button only takes a millisecond, a millisecond that could potentially have enormous ramifications to your Court proceedings and your ongoing relationship with your ex-partner or spouse and even with your children.