Following the end of a relationship when feelings run high, it is tempting to go onto social media and vent your frustration. However, I would urge anyone who intends to do this to proceed with caution. Why? Your social media posts could lead you into a lot of trouble.
It is not uncommon nowadays to see family cases concerning children, divorce or restraining orders in court where social media posts are used as evidence by the parties. But beware… what you may say in a moment of stress, anxiety or anger can be used against you later on at court.
There are also some instances where details of an ongoing case can appear online. This can lead to the poster facing potentially very serious consequences including prison.
The rules regarding the publicizing of the discussions that take place in family cases are clearly set out in both section 97 of the Children Act 1989 and Rules 12.73 and 12.75 of the Family Procedure Rules. In short, if you wish to post any details in the case, permission should be sought from the judge dealing with the matter. However, unless it is felt to be in the public’s best interests, permission is not likely to be given. If permission is given the court can impose significant restrictions.
Generally, it is accepted that provided no names are given and as long as the subjects of the proceedings cannot be identified then posting is not in breach. However, it is a very fine line to walk and I would strongly urge anyone who is thinking of posting anything to refrain from doing so. Irrespective as to whether the subject is identifiable, it is likely to irritate the court and could impact on how a judge views your position in a case.