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Sophie Bartholomew, Family Lawyer Vancouver

Family Law Social Media Traps and tips can make divorcing and separating even more stressful than normal. In today’s blog, downtown Vancouver high net worth family lawyer Sophie Bartholomew explains how to avoid the two worst Family Law Social Media Traps and one great family law social media tip to keep you sane and safe while going through a separation.

Family Law Social Media Traps and Tips 1 877 602 9900

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Wechat; there are ever-increasing ways for individuals to communicate with friends and strangers than ever before. As a result, social media forms part of most people’s everyday lives and brings many benefits such as; socializing, networking and staying connected. Today we’ll point our some critical Family Law Social Media Traps and Tips to help you to stay out of trouble. Just as importantly, you will likely save money on legal fees reading this article.

2 Worst Family Law Social Media Traps

However, as soon as you have a family law matter, how you use social media can impact more than just the amount of ‘likes’ you receive. It has been widely reported that social media harms marriage and relationships. A survey carried out by Huffington Post on 2,000 married people in Britain indicated that a spouse’s questionable social media activity played a part in one out of seven divorce filings.  Another article concludes facebook was being implicated in 1/3 of divorce filings. As a result, it is unsurprising that social media content is ever-increasingly playing a part in family law proceedings.

Lawyers at MacLean Law have the experience and inside knowledge to guide you through managing social media in family law. So without further delay here are Sophie Bartholemew’s 3 key Family Law Social Media Traps and Tips.

Tips & Traps

  1. TRAP – Social Media posts can be used as evidence and can be subject to disclosure

You may be forced to disclose content you have posted on social media if it is relevant to a material fact in the proceedings. This includes photographs and videos (Fric v. Gershman, 2012 BCSC 614 (Master), a personal injury case).

Even if a party is not forced to disclose their social media content; then it may still be entered into evidence. In M. (K.) v. B. (J.), 2013 BCSC 2041, snapshots of the father’s Facebook posts were admitted into evidence by the court on the basis that:

postings were not truly private communications. They were available to be seen by a group of friends and could have been shown to others or passed on by the recipients. In these circumstances, the respondent had no real expectation of privacy in his postings”.

A review of Canadian cases over ten years carried out by Master Heather Macnaughton for CLEBC in 2016, demonstrated that “social media evidence has been relied on by courts deciding the following types of applications, among others:

  • to reduce support;
  • for protection orders with or without notice;
  • for exclusive occupancy of a family home;
  • to justify the need for a s. 211 report;
  • to justify an order for supervised parenting time;
  • to justify an order for counseling for a parent and/or the children of the marriage
  • in considering the best interests of the children in s. 37 of the FLA and family violence in s. 38.
  • in making conduct orders, orders about exchanges of the children, and restraining or non-harassment orders;
  • to justify the appointment of a parenting coordinator;
  • to support non-removal orders;
  • in considering “needs” based support claims and ability to pay; and
  • to justify an order for a family reunification program”

As a result, it is clear that more than ever, you can expect scrutiny of your social media content in family proceedings.

  1. TRAP – Negative social media posts

Negative social media posts of the other party can be particularly damaging if you have children together given the ongoing nature of the parental relationship. Our firm has even made court applications to seize devices and obtain login information to stop and punish family law cyberbullying.

In the case of Campbell v. Stern, 2017 BCSC 2186, the mother’s use of social media to make abusive comments about the respondent, in part, impacted the Court’s decision to grant the father the guardian responsible for the child’s therapies [para 28].

In W. (R.) v. C. (P.), 2017 BCSC 998 false allegations and demeaning remarks made to a child, in emails, and social media postings about the other party, were found to be emotional abuse constituting family violence.

Even if the communication does not reach the level of family violence then it may still negatively impact your claim.

1 Great Family Law Social Media Tip

  1. TIP – If you find yourself in a family law dispute consider changing your social media use.

You may want to consider:

  • Changing your password, reviewing previous social media posts and refraining from ongoing social media content which could be used against you. For example, something as simple as you with a glass of wine, or a holiday snap, could be construed negatively or used as evidence of your lifestyle.
  • Even if you consider yourself ‘tech-savvy’ and privacy-conscious – you may want to revise your ‘friend’ list as you may often have mutual friends with your ex-spouse which could have access to information you think is private.
  • You may also want to ask your family and friends to not post anything about you online whilst the family law case is ongoing.

Contact Our Vancouver Divorce and Separation Lawyers 1 877 602 9900

If you or the other party in the family law case has used social media either before or during a family law matter, then MacLean Law’s family lawyers can assist you in making sure social media content is managed effectively. Contact our social media management family lawyers to learn more about these issues. We hope these 3 top family law social media traps and tips help you reduce the temperature in your separation or divorce.

By Sophie Bartholomew