Article

Is your life story online? Reliance on social media in family proceedings

11th July 2023

 

Social media is part of every day life for most people. However, if you are in the midst of family proceedings, it’s important that you‘re careful that what you are sharing online could not be used detrimentally against you. Lucy Edwards, Solicitor in our Family Law team, outlines some ‘golden rules’ you should follow when using social media.

Like it or loathe it, social media is a key feature in modern society.

Whilst there are undeniable benefits to the use of social media, such as keeping in touch with friends and family, it is imperative that users are mindful of the associated risks. This is even more important for those users who happen to be in the midst of family proceedings.

The family courts are seeing an increasing reliance from parties on evidence extracted from social media within both financial remedy and children proceedings. This may be photographic evidence of the other party’s spending habits, e.g. a recent holiday abroad, or a screen capture of a derogatory post made by one party about the other.

It could even be, as was the case in a recent matter in which I was instructed, evidence that a party is engaged to be (re)married, despite their position to the court being that they were single. In this particular matter, it was only by virtue of a quick glimpse of the opposition’s various public social media profiles that this important information came to light. Of course, this evidence strengthened my client’s position within proceedings and ultimately played a role in achieving his desired outcome.

This case acts as a warning that some social media posts not only risk the embarrassment of private information being discussed in court, but they could also be detrimental to a party’s defence,  and have significant cost implications.

If you do use social media please consider the below golden rules :

  • Check your privacy settings – limit your audience to only those with whom you wish to share your information
  • Speak to your family and friends you can only control your own social media profiles, so do your best to ensure that your family and friends are mindful when they post anything related to you, on their profiles
  • Find different coping mechanisms – family proceedings can be distressing, and people often turn to social media to offload. Quite simply, don’t!
  • Be sensible – if you wouldn’t want your post to be subject of discussion in a court room, don’t post it.