Use of social media in family breakdowns

It is forecast that, by the end of this year, 90 per cent of the UK adult population will use a social media account at least once a month. We are putting more of our lives online than ever before. We often post about our family celebrations, personal dilemmas and even our relationship status.

‘Unfortunately, social media can bring its own set of problems when it comes to a family breakdown,’ says Diana Rose family law expert. ‘Once you may have told your closest friends about your relationship problems, but grievances are now being shared on social media. This has resulted in social media posts being used as evidence in the family courts.’

Using social media while annoyed

It is common for tempers to run high at some point during a family breakdown. Feelings are raw and stress inevitably contributes to people, on occasion, acting in a manner they would not normally condone.  

Using social media while you are upset is never a good idea, it could never be truer than while you are involved in a family dispute. 

Social media posts as evidence

With the introduction of the no-fault divorce this type of evidence may be of little use in a divorce, but it can still be relevant when it comes to arrangements for the children or family finances. For example, if your social media posts aim to create a negative impression of your former partner then you may be accused of influencing your children in relation to their relationship with him or her.

In relation to negotiating matrimonial finances, social media can also be troublesome. For example, if you are a business owner it is likely that you will want to promote your business as being successful to the public. For marketing purposes business owners may therefore decide to post on social media alluding to how well their business is doing. While this highlights positive news for the business, it could lead to questions if it is at odds with representations made to the court about the business’s financial viability.

If you have a disagreement over spousal maintenance, social media posts showing a luxury lifestyle could be used by your former partner to imply that you have significant surplus monies, and that there should be a levelling by way of increased spousal maintenance payments.

Things to consider before posting  

It is advisable to avoid any posts that directly reference the breakdown or a former partner. Ask yourself before you post ‘Do I want a judge to read this?,’ or ‘Would I be embarrassed if this was read out in court?’ 

It is important to be aware that even if your social media account is private, it is always possible for others to pass on information that you post. Photographs taken of private messages and snap chats have also been used as evidence in court.

For advice on this or any other family law matter, please contact us on 01604 622101 or email [email protected]

 

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

 

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