Why does social media matter in family law?
Information you share online is never private.
The information you share online about yourself, your partner, your children may be used as evidence in your family law matter. This means that your comments, photos, and posts can be used to show evidence of parental gatekeeping, poor parenting skills, inappropriate judgement or substance abuse. It really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words!
We have prepared some guidelines to assist you in keeping this type of damaging evidence away from your case. To be safe, follow the guidelines below:
Guidelines for Communications
1. Always Wear your HALO!
Family law matters can often be emotionally charged and difficult to navigate. Whenever you are communicating about anything at all, particularly in writing, you must ensure that you are on your best behaviour. Children will pick up on negative emotions and you should always ensure that you speak kindly of your child’s other parent.
2. Stay Positive in Public
Posting negative comments about an ex-partner or other involved parties can counteract attempts to find amicable resolutions and can harm the character of the person posting the content. Stay positive on social media, and never post or send anything that you wouldn’t want brought up in court.
Also remember that if you delete something you know to be incriminating or damaging, opposing parties could argue you are destroying evidence. Keep it clean and positive from the start.
3. Passwords and Security
Always log out of any online account before leaving your computer.
Use strong passwords that are a combination of numbers and words and will not easily guessed.
Many social media accounts now offer two- factor authentication where each time you log-in on a new computer or phone, you will have to input a code which is sent to your cell-phone. This prevents someone from guessing your password and logging onto your account from their own computer. Change the password immediately for any account that you suspect may be compromised.
4. Privacy on Social Media
There is no such thing as privacy or anonymity on the internet. When you create an account with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, even messages between yourself and your friends can be used, as can any old photos or negative posts and comments that you’ve made in the past.
Take the time to read all privacy settings and be extremely careful about how public your posts are.
Remember that if you comment, like, or share a post on someone else’s social media account, all of their friends can also see that you have done so. If your friend’s account is public, then anyone with access to the internet can see your post. This way friends of friends can access what you have posted online. If you wouldn’t want it seen by an opposing party, don’t post it at all!
Be careful to use appropriate communication. Discuss confidential matters over the phone or in person instead of posting or messaging about it. Have these discussions out of the home where you can be sure that your child cannot accidentally overhear you.
5. Before posting anything, ask yourself the following questions
- Do I really know who can see this?
- What does this say about me to others?
- Would I want this brought up in court?