ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS IN BREACH OF THE FAMILY LAW ACT?

In the age of social media, it has become commonplace to use outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to vent our everyday frustrations, and quite often, these involve ex-partners.

Whilst it is understandable that the breakdown of a relationship is an emotional process, social media may not be the best place to vent to or seek comfort from family and friends if you are in the midst of a family law matter. A seemingly casual Facebook post may amount to a breach of section 121 of the Family Law Act if it identifies a party to proceedings before the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court, or a person who is in any way involved in the matter.

Common Misconceptions

Myth: It will be fine as long as I don’t mention my ex-partner’s name.

Reality: A person is taken to be ‘identified’ if the information given is sufficient to make it known to the public (or your Facebook friends, as the case may be) who that person is. This includes a physical description, an address, or even words such as “my ex”.

Myth: I’m allowed to post about my family law matters on social media if I only state facts, not opinions.

Reality: Your post does not have to be malicious or derogatory. As long it identifies a party to the proceedings, or a person who is in any way involved in the matter, it will amount to a breach of the Family Law Act.

Myth: My account is private so I can post whatever I want.

Reality: Even if your account is private, it is advisable not to post anything relating to your family law matters because these posts can still be seen by your “friends” and there is always a chance they could make it out to the general public.

Consequences

The consequences of a breach of section 121 are twofold: not only is there is a high risk that the contents of your post could be taken out of context and used against you in evidence in your family law matter; it is also an offence punishable by imprisonment for up to one year.

Suggestions

  • If in doubt, don’t post it.
  • Don’t respond to any comments or questions that your friends make about your family law matter on social media, and delete these comments as soon as possible.
  • If possible, refrain from using social media altogether until your family law matter is finalised.

Should you require assistance with any family law matters please contact one our family lawyers today on (07) 5591 5099.

Author: Shona Sahay

Director: Sophie Pearson

Date: 31/08/2017

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