In today’s society everyone is posting their personal lives on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, but when it comes to Family Law matters making inappropriate posts can not only come back to haunt you, but can land you in jail!!
Many people have taken to using social media as a way of venting their grievances about an array of things in life, from an annoying work colleague to road rage. The breakdown of a relationship can cause emotions to run high and many people choose social media as a means to attack or voice their dislike for their former partner or spouse.
At a time when logic and rationality may not be at the forefront of your mind, you should ask yourself, would I feel comfortable if a Judge was to read the comments I am making? Often Facebook posts are later attached to Affidavits* particularly in court matters relating to children.
Further, parents can become frustrated with the court process and voice their frustration on the internet. In circumstances such as these you should be aware that you may end up in jail for unleashing your fury.
Most people who are involved in court proceedings are not aware that Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (“Act”) provides that a person who publishes in a newspaper, radio broadcast, television or by other electronic means, any account of any court proceedings under the Act, which identifies a party to the proceedings; a person related or associated with the proceedings; or a witness in the proceedings will be guilty of an offence and if convicted may be imprisoned for up to one year.
In a case conducted in the Family Court of Australia, a father participating in the court proceedings became unhappy and disillusioned with the Court process.
To express this dissatisfaction he created a website on which he identified the names of the parties in the proceedings, and posted photographs of various lawyers and single expert witnesses which were published under the heading “List of corrupt legal professionals”.
The father then wrote to the Independent Children’s Lawyer, (ICL), drawing her attention to the website. In response the ICL requested that the father remove the website due to the “objectionable content”. The father stated that he would “NOT remove the content from his website”.
The Court then ordered that the father immediately remove from the website all references to the proceedings and the parties involved. It was directed that the Marshall of the Court take all the necessary steps to ensure that any breach of Section 121 was investigated, and if appropriate, the father be prosecuted. Further, it was respectfully requested that the Australia Federal Police investigate as to whether an indictable offence ** had been committed by the father.
Think before you post, then don’t!!
* Affidavit – a written statement used by a witness as evidence in court
* Indictable Offence – is a serious offence which requires a trail by judge and jury