Social Media and Family Disputes


It has become normal practice for us to read about the latest celebrity separation and their divorce settlement and for this to be in the public eye, but how would you feel if what people were reading about was your private life?

The more social media has become widely used by most, the more frequently Family Practitioners are witnessing the involvement of social media in their cases.

There are several ways that social media can play a part in family matters for example an aggrieved spouse posting about the “ridiculous” offer they have just received for financial settlement providing more information than they ever would to an acquaintance that they bump in to from time to time, or the separated parent sharing pictures of their children criticising the action of the other parent in not letting them spend time with their children. It is very easy for a post to be made on social media in the heat of the moment, and it should be avoided. It is crucial that your private matters remain private and you should not be lured in to thinking that by sharing on social media it is to only those friends that you share things with that are seeing such posts.

Much of what is posted on social media is largely in the public forum and therefore screenshots of posts and pictures are often admissible as evidence and as a result posting should always be done with caution.

Following these few tips will help you avoid falling in to the traps of social media:

1. Do not post anything that you would not be happy with a Judge seeing/reading.

2. Review your ‘friends’ list and update your privacy settings. It is all too common for people to have people on their ‘friends’ list that they did not realise were there and this could potentially result in information being shared to those you would rather not share information with.

3. If you have separated and are entering a new relationship, consider the timing of changing your relationship status on social media and consider whether it is imperative to update your relationship status mid-way through proceedings or if that is going to unnecessarily inflame the situation.

4. Never post anything whilst you are cross, frustrated or angry. It may be therapeutic to type out how you are feeling in that moment, however time out should be taken before you make a decision as to whether to post that to your social media or not. If you do make a post and then regret it, deleting the post may not be enough as it may have already been seen and a screenshot taken.

5. Avoid engaging in arguments on Social Media; this can quickly result in posts being made that would otherwise not be shared. Posting threatening or abusive messages could also be relied on as evidence in injunction proceedings.

6. Consider the content that you are posting even if this is unrelated to your separation. Posts that suggest that there is any behaviour related to drugs, alcohol misuse or inappropriate behaviour can be relied upon by your spouse or partner as evidence in proceedings.

For more information on how we can support you through a family matter, please contact family specialist Stephanie Newton by emailing her or by calling on 01635 508179.

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