Keeping the personal private

B2B Editor7 November 2013

Keeping the personal private

For many people, updating their Facebook page, sending a tweet or keeping their blogs fresh are easy ways to stay in touch and keep others informed. Even our politicians have embraced social media to share information with us all… sometimes more than we want course…

But, in the context of a Family Law matter extra care should be exercised. Real damage can be done when that which you thought was “private” becomes all too public.

People are less careful than they ought to be. These live publications, while perhaps intended to be read by certain people only, may be accessed by an unintended audience. Care should be taken at all times to pause and reflect – does it matter who reads this? If it does matter, then don’t post, tweet or send.

In cases about children, where court proceedings are on foot, the court is asked to make decisions in the best interests of the children. Communications in social media, inconsistent with the formal story being told in court by a party, can be very damaging.

Increasingly, social media postings are proving to be fertile ground for cross examination.

I recall one particular case where a young mother claimed that she should provide care for her very young child, despite evidence about some real problems she was facing in her life. She was asked about a new relationship (the details of which she had not provided to the Court, even though the man, if she won, would be spending a lot of time with the child). She denied the relationship or its seriousness. Then she was cross examined. Facebook pages were produced including many intimate and detailed posts she had made about her new love and what they did together.

She protested that she had been set up, but the Judge did not believe her. She lost the case.

For those of us with children, while we may marvel at their technical dexterity and knowledge (with toddlers intuitively swiping and pinching iPads and smart phones) parents may also be subject to criticism for failing to properly monitor the cyber activities of their children. Being your child’s Facebook friend may not be enough.

Do you know what sort of images your teenager is texting to his or her mates and who else will see them?

Common sense and caution remain pretty good guides to working through these issues. The old adage about being careful before you put something in writing applies just as much here – think before you post/ tweet or update.

And if you are involved in a parenting dispute, ask yourself is it ok if my former partner sees this? What about my kids? What about the Judge?

And what about my lawyer?

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