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Social Media, Electronic Communications and Family Proceedings

View profile for John Boon
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The recent outbreak of Covid-19 and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Government mean that a large number of us are spending more time on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and using electronic forms of communication, such as instant messaging. 

It is a tense and uncertain time for us all. For those who are considering or going through a separation, or are involved in a child-related dispute, there are added tensions, particularly for those who find themselves “locked down” with the other party to the dispute. The resulting tensions can cause many people to take to social media or other forms of electronic communication to air their views or frustrations. However, misuse of these platforms can potentially have a significant impact on a case, whether this involves divorce/separation, financial claims or child-related issues.  Social media postings and forms of electronic communication can be referred to in the course of court proceedings and can, in extreme cases, lead to criminal charges. 

It is therefore very important to consider, before sending any form of electronic communication, how this would be viewed by a solicitor, a member of the judiciary, or indeed the police. While the safest option is undoubtedly to avoid using such platforms to deal with personal, private matters, those using social media or electronic communications regularly should ensure that the content is polite, even if the urge may be to do the opposite. Ask yourself this question “how will this be viewed by a judge or by a solicitor”. If the answer is, “badly”, then it should probably not be posted.

Users should also ensure that their privacy settings and passwords are regularly kept under review and that inappropriate statuses or pictures are not posted. It is also important to ensure that children are not exposed to any inappropriate content.