We commonly hear about people whose prospects for a new job have been scuppered as a result of their social media antics but employment law is not the only area where social media has an impact. We are now seeing quite routinely the negative impact which social media can have in family law cases.
Simple online searches can be very revealing and give away a lot of personal information about someone. Its important that our clients understand the potential pitfalls of what might seem to be to them an innocuous post or tweet. For example, someone’s lifestyle can be very relevant when dealing with the financial settlement of a divorcing couple. If one party’s case is that they need some ongoing financial support from their spouse after separation it is not going to help their case if they litter their social media accounts with photographs of extravagant shopping trips, expensive clothes, new cars and holidays.
The same obviously applies to the spouse pleading poverty and suggesting that they cannot continue to provide that ongoing financial support. Many cases can turn on what one party’s financial needs are to enable them to move on. Bragging about their means on social media can be detrimental to their case.
Another frequent issue can be whether one party has started to live with a new partner as this can understandably impact upon their financial situation. Not only can announcing this on social media affect an ongoing divorce case, it could also be used in a future case should that relationship end. Evidence of an engagement or of sharing a home and how this is referred to could be relevant.
The other obvious area where social media can play a part in family law is when one party openly uses this as a platform to bully or threaten their ex-partner or ex-spouse. This behaviour is never acceptable and can be used as evidence within injunction proceedings.
Essentially our advice to clients is to think very carefully about what they post on social media and how this could be perceived by the other party or even a Judge. An ill-judged post or comment could have wider ramifications for their case overall.
Sarah Power is a Partner at Chadwick Lawrence and oversees their team of specialist family lawyers based at their offices across West Yorkshire. The team offers flexible appointments and an initial free half hour appointment. If you need to find out where you stand contact us on 0800 015 0340.