Facebook and Family Law

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The use of social media (the general term for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin and all social networking sites) has exploded in Ireland and has changed the way we communicate.

The figures are staggering.  According to the latest statistics, 2.25 million Irish people or almost half of the entire Irish population over the age of 15 use Facebook.  In the 15-24 age group 90% use Facebook every day.

The legal implications of the use of social media in the context of family law proceedings cannot be underestimated.  This begs the question – can Facebook wreck your marriage?

Very often what might seem like an innocent post on your Facebook page takes on a completely different complexion if introduced as evidence in a court case.  What could happen, for example, is that in an application for maintenance, the mother of a child could produce copies of Facebook entries showing gambling or extravagant spending by the father. Any pattern of behaviour recorded on Facebook relating to parenting skills may also be admissible in evidence.   Evidence of Facebook postings where a parent is shown to be have been out socialising when meant to be minding the children might be very damaging to their case.

Another aspect of Facebook that may lead to the breakdown of a relationship is the “check-in” status Facebook users may use.  For example if a husband/wife tells their spouse that they are working late, yet their check in status reveals that they have just checked into a restaurant it will invariably arouse suspicions.

As the use of Facebook and other social media increases, it is clear that it will be produced in evidence in family law proceedings.  This is already being done. The purpose of this article is to highlight the dangers that social media can have on a troubled or ailing relationship.  As with the use of all social media we would advise that you should not post anything on Facebook or Twitter that you wouldn’t print on a t-shirt for all to see – including your mother.

Of course Facebook does not wreck marriages – it’s the people who use or inappropriately use it!

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