Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/18)

Mills & Mills LLP: Toni Wharton

Be careful what you post on social media after a separation!

Social media plays a significant part in the day-to-day life of most people these days.  Since it has become so accessible on smartphones, the majority of people are using it and many post comments, photographs and information about their lives daily.

As social media has become more common, so has the use of such social media posts by separated spouses, as evidence to support their case in court, or to contradict the other party’s case.  Parties will scour Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other such social media, to find evidence they can use against their former spouses.  There are hundreds of reported family law cases in recent years, which feature some element of issues related to social media.

Social Media and Parenting or Financial Disputes

Social media is being used in cases involving parenting and financial issues.  There are a host of cases in which Courts are accepting evidence of disparaging and abusive comments about former spouses, to support the allegations of abusive conduct, which could ultimately affect decisions on custody and parenting time.  There are cases in which parties plead poverty with respect to child and spousal support requests, or claim that they have no assets and subsequently these parties are expected to explain in cross-examination at trial how they managed to take ‘those luxury vacations shown in pictures posted on instagram’ and how they ‘bought that luxury new car they tweeted about’.

Some Things to Consider Before Posting

Parties to a family law proceeding, or even those negotiating a settlement, should consider very carefully how they are using their social media and the evidence they are creating with their posts.  Many family law lawyers advise against using social media entirely during proceedings.  At the least, the following measures should be taken:

  1. Always think twice before posting any information! As a rule of thumb, before posting, ask yourself the question, “Would this be okay if this were read out loud in a courtroom”;
  2. Do not use social media as an outlet to vent about your former spouse, or to disparage a former spouse to friends;
  3. Double check privacy settings! Many people inadvertently have their privacy settings set to public, completely unaware that anyone can find their social media page and have unrestricted access to the information posted;
  4. Be aware that even when settlings are private, any comments or sharing of posts by other friends may result in your posts being available for others to see; and
  5. Change all passwords after a separation and ensure you choose a strong password!

The lawyers at Mills & Mills LLP work to find solutions that work for their clients and their clients’ families. We always prefer to minimize costs and preserve family relationships by resolving matters through negotiation or mediation, but if court is unavoidable we will vigorously defend our clients’ interests through litigation.

If you have questions about a family law matter, contact Toni Wharton at 416-682-7121.

 

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