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Dear Katrina,

What things should we not say online during a separation?

When meeting clients for the first time, and particularly in parenting cases, my first bit of advice is to be very careful about what you write about online.

People use social media platforms differently. For some, it is simply used as a tool of entertainment. For others, unfortunately it’s their way of “airing dirty laundry” or garnering sympathy or support.

The latter is not so bad if there are no identifying features or if the user’s setting are not set to public but I have seen many clients and ex partners of clients run into trouble for the things that they post online.

Katrina Peters

For example, in one recent case, a mother continuously posted threatening and derogatory comments on her social media about my client who is the father of a 9 year old boy.  Due to these comments, a protection order was taken out against the mother.  That didn’t stop her though.  She continued to make the comments and her protection order was breached.  The result of that then was that rather than the protection order issue remaining a civil law matter, it became a criminal offence for which she was found guilty and a criminal conviction was recorded.

Another aspect is that these types of posts most certainly will be used by the other parent in Court proceedings.  I have had experiences where parties file pages and pages of annexures to their affidavit evidence of screen shots of these sorts of online posts.  One affidavit in particular I have seen contained over 100 pages of screen shots.  The Court does not view this type of behaviour by parents very positively and it could negatively impact a parent’s case.

Disputes in family law are extremely emotional, stressful and traumatic so it is understandable that sometimes parents want to vent online.  However, social media is definitely not the place to do that.

My advice is that you should talk to your support network, such as family and friends.  If that support network is not available, then you should seek out external counselling and support services.

If you would like to know more – contact us today.