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“Think Before You Post” – Facebook and Family Law

Facebook is a popular and widely used tool for communication, where every status update can be viewed by the users entire circle of ‘friends’. Over half the UK population is now ‘on’ Facebook, and according to recent statistics, over 70% of users visit the site at least once every day.

A recent survey looking at divorce petitions and examples from children/contact proceedings, illustrate the potential pitfalls of using Facebook when involved in Family Law proceedings.

Facebook and Divorce

A survey of 5,000 divorce petitions found that the word ‘Facebook’ was contained in over a third of those citing ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as the reason for the divorce. The most common reasons for referencing Facebook were relating to the spouses behaviour with members of the opposite sex on Facebook, and the use of Facebook status updates as ‘weapons’ in the divorce.

Facebook and Children Proceedings

Two recent Court of Appeal cases involving the parents of children, also show the impact of playing out Family Law issues on Facebook.

In the first case, a father in contact proceedings breached an agreement to not post information on Facebook and was found in contempt and sentenced to 3 months in prison, suspended for 2 years.

The second involved a father who accessed the mother’s Facebook account during child proceedings, and ‘manipulated’ the content on the account.

Both fathers had their appeals dismissed.

These examples, and the results from the survey, illustrate the impact Facebook and other social media can now have in Family Law cases and why it is important for people getting divorced or those in child proceedings to think long and hard before posting anything online. At Hopkins, we provide advice to our clients on the potential problems of using social media in Family Law cases.

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