Pause before you post!
Social media is something many of us use without thinking too much, being part of day to day life for many. If you, or someone you know, are going through a separation which may go to the family court, stop and ask these questions before you click post:
Do I have mutual contacts with my ex? Is my account public? Who am I sharing this with? Why? Are there potential negative consequences? Would it be more helpful to talk to someone?
The same applies if your child is going through a separation – an email you send or facebook post you write or share, even with the best intentions to defend or protect your child, could end up before a Judge!
Not only can tweets, facebook posts, amusing images, or ‘memes’ shared on your Instagram story referring to or tagging your ex in, end up as evidence in family law proceedings: social media posts might even result in you being taken to court for defamation.
Defamation case study: Dabrowski v Greeuw (2014)
A separated wife in Western Australia wrote this post in December 2012 on her public Facebook account: ‘separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse. Now fighting the system to keep my children safe’.
Miro was a school teacher. His brother told him about the post, and Miro then took Ms Greeuw to court for defamation.
She said she did not know her account was set to public, and relied on justification in defending the defamation claims. The Judge did not agree, finding there was no independent evidence to support defamatory imputations about Miro resulting from her post, which were:
1. For 18 years, Ms Greeuw was subjected to domestic violence at the hands of Miro,
2. For 18 years, Ms Greeuw was abused by Miro;
3. Their children are not safe in the presence of their father, Miro.
Ms Greeuw was ordered to pay $12,500 in damages to her former husband, who sought more, claiming as he was a teacher the defamation was aggravated by affecting his community reputation. The Judge found no financial loss was suffered: the post was made in the context of a relationship breakdown, and was removed after about 6 weeks.
Moral to the story
Defamation laws vary between States. There is no automatic entitlement to money. Succeeding with a defamation claim is not simple. If your former partner has posted about you, legal advice unique to your situation may focus on having the post removed, not on actually pursuing defamation in court.
Get the ball rolling
If you wish to send a serious message and show your former partner you are taking active steps to move on and finalise matters after separation, call us for a family law consult.
*Disclaimer：This is intended as general information only and not to be construed as legal advice. The above information is subject to changes over time. You should always seek professional advice before taking any course of action.*
Associate and Office Manager (Parramatta)
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