Family law and Facebook

by Peter Magee on January 14, 2011

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has found that most divorce lawyers are seeing more cases using social media for evidence of cheating.  Flirty messages and photographs found on Facebook are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behaviour or irreconcilable difference.  Evidence found on Facebook is being used in one in five divorces in the US.

Australia has a no-fault divorce system and people need not prove unreasonable behaviour or infidelity in order to divorce.  The real issue in Australia is who contributed what and when.  Facebook can be used as evidence to contradict what people are saying about their contributions during the relationship.  In other words, Facebook can be used as evidence of money wasted on extra marital flings and indulgences, rather than having been contributed to the marital relationship.  Those leakages from relationship funds are a relevant factor in assessing the division of property.

In parenting matters, photographs of children on Facebook or photographs of parents while they were alleged to have been caring for children which have appeared on Facebook, have led to many arguments about the credibility of some parents.

The other way in which Facebook is impacting upon family law and our practice is it’s recognition by the courts as a method of serving documents on people who have otherwise been avoiding the service of the documents or have been unable to be located.

In recent months we have had two occasions where the court has sanctioned our service of documents upon the other party by Facebook. The court has accepted that the other party has been given adequate notice by us having provided print outs of the delivery documents via Facebook.

Should you need any advice in relation to the issues raised in this article please do not hesitate to contact us.

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