Integrity, Understanding, Results

Facebook and Family Court

by Linda Smith 12. March 2013 14:05

One of the first questions I ask clients who are or are about to be involved in family law litigation is: “Do you have a Facebook account?” 


Facebook and other similar social media sites often tell a far different story about one’s conduct than what a party has entered into evidence in court proceedings.   Is it admissible evidence?  You bet it is. All sorts of electronic communication including emails, voicemails, texts, tweets and anything posted online that is public can be used as evidence if it is relevant to the case.  What you say and do online can have serious implications in Family Court proceedings.


Even though your ex may not be your Facebook friend,  it is possible that you have a mutual friend who is letting your ex log in under their name or view their page.  Remember:  Nothing is private on the internet.  If you would not want to read it on the front page of a national newspaper, don’t post it on Facebook. 


Some common examples of Facebook posts used as evidence in Court include:

Saying vulgar, inappropriate and negative things about the other party; such as calling the father of a child a “sperm donor”.

Checking in from a night club at 1 a.m. when the party is supposed to be caring for a child.

A party telling the Court they don’t have a job and posting on Facebook that they took the day off work.

And then there are the photos;  Facebook photos can be used as evidence of conduct and lifestyle.  Having your friend tag a photo of you holding a beer with 10 empties in the background is damaging and could be used against you. That photo of you and your friends on your last vacation could pop up as contradictory evidence of your lifestyle.   Who can see tags?  More people than you would imagine.  This photo can easily reach a large number of people.  It is likely visible on the timelines of your friends and the friend of anyone else tagged in the photo.

 
All of these things can and regularly do end up before the Court in an Affidavit.

If you are heading off to Family Court, seriously consider whether keeping your Facebook account is in your best interest.  At the very least review your privacy settings and think about who you have on your friends list. Regularly monitor status updates and photos and that you are tagged in to preserve your online reputation.  Learn how to untag yourself.  You may also want to consider enabling Timeline Review in your privacy settings to allow you to review and approve posts from anyone (including your friends) before they appear on your timeline.  There are several helpful websites out there such as www.Lifehacker.com that provide instructions on locking down your Facebook page. 

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Electronic Communication | Family Law

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Smith & Company is a small user friendly law firm conveniently located in downtown Kingston, Ontario. We are committed to providing efficient, cost-effective, quality legal representation in Kingston and the surrounding area.

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