Australian law news

Facebook & Family Law: How to Stop Social Media From Ruining Your Custody Case

Custody battles can be one of the most stressful parts of a breakup. If you're currently going through one or you're preparing for your case to go to trial, you may want to unwind by discussing everything with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media site.

However, while social media may seem like an intimate and relatively private place to blow off steam, it could jeopardise your entire custody case if you're not careful about how you use it. Anything and everything you post (including status updates, pictures and videos) could be used to discredit you or to provide evidence against you in court if it falls into the wrong hands. 

If you're an avid social media user, here are 3 things you should do to avoid ruining your chances of full or partial custody.

Preserve Potential Evidence

If you tend to talk about your life and feelings frequently on social media, you may be worried about past posts being used against you as evidence. However, it's essential that you do not delete or try to 'clean' up your social profiles. Deleting social media posts can be considered spoliation -- the intentional destruction of evidence. If you destroy evidence, you could be found to be obstructing the criminal justice process, which could harm your case or get you into legal trouble. Instead of deleting incriminating posts, discuss them with your lawyer. A family law attorney will be able to figure out how to challenge these posts if they're brought up in court.

Increase Your Privacy Settings

Privacy settings are one of the most useful features on social media. They allow you to restrict your posts so the only people who can see them are friends and followers that you've approved. Make sure you go through your privacy and security settings on all your profiles and set everything to 'friends only'. After doing this, you'll also want to ensure that your friends list only contains people you emphatically trust. Consider removing your ex-partner's friends and family from your friends or followers list, along with any other parties you're dubious about. As for those close friends and family who remain friends or followers, politely ask them to refrain from discussing any matters related to your case or your situation on social media, just in case they're still friends with people you can't trust.

On the subject of privacy, it's also a good idea to change your password, especially if you shared it with your child's other parent while you were still together.

Don't Vent or Criticise

Even after culling your friends and followers lists and increasing your privacy settings, it's a good idea to err on the side of caution and avoid venting or criticising your ex on social media. Avoid posting anything disparaging, and never talk about your case. Anything you say could be misconstrued, either on purpose or by mistake. This can lead to a whole host of problems, including accusations of libel and arguments that worsen your relationship with your child's other parent. If you see one of your ex-partner's friends or family members venting about you, try to resist responding. Instead, take a screenshot of their post and share it with your lawyer, who may be able to make use of it in your case.