You’ve had a bad day in the Family Court and you want to vent your frustrations and let everyone know. Can you go to your private Facebook page and make a post about your ex-partner or their Family Lawyer to your Facebook friends?
The short answer is you can do that, but it depends on the type of information you include in your Facebook post. As Family Lawyers, we recommend that you resist the urge to do it all, as it may reflect poorly on you in the future.
If there are no proceedings before the Family Court, then you do not have any obligations restricting you from discussing your Family Law matter on Facebook, so long as you do not defame your ex-partner, anyone they may be dating or your ex-partner’s Family Lawyer.
You should be careful however, if you choose to discuss Family Law matters on any social media platform, as there have been instances in the past where a person’s social media posts have been used against them.
If you are involved in Family Court litigation, we suggest that you do not make any reference, however small, regarding your ex-partner or the circumstances or status of the Family Law matter at all.
If proceedings have already been commenced then Section 121(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 (“the Act”) prohibits a person from publishing, or disseminating to the public, or a section of the public, an account of the proceedings, or any part of any proceedings which identifies:
- A party to the proceedings meaning you or your former partner;
- A person who is related to, or associated with, a party to the proceedings, or is alleged to be concerned with the matter meaning your children, your former partner’s family or new partner, your lawyer or your former partner’s lawyer; or
- A witness to the proceedings meaning anybody who is giving evidence in your proceedings. This could be a friend, or a psychologist who has been appointed as a Single Expert Witness.
Section 121(3)(1) of the Act contains a detailed list of what the Court will consider when determining if a person has been identified on a social media platform or elsewhere.
If you are found guilty of publishing or disseminating to the public an account of the proceedings, or any part of the proceedings which identifies someone related to the proceedings, then you commit an offence punishable by imprisonment for up to one year.
There are some exceptions as to when you can publish an account of the proceedings, the list is contained in section 121(9) of the Act. Some instances when you can provide an account of the proceedings is when the Court has permitted you to do so or you are making an application for a Grant of Legal Aid.
The above is not intended to be legal advice.
If you need advice in relation to proceedings in the Family Court, please contact us on 08 9221 2666 or email@example.com to make an appointment to speak to one of our Family Law solicitors.