Published on December 28, 2022

As a family lawyer who uses social media to inform and educate my audience, I have seen, and I am sure many of you would also have come across posts, comments and opinions on various family law related issues which are shared and adjudicated upon by the court of public opinion.

In any discussions with my clients, at the outset, I always stress the importance of keeping matters private with your family law related issues remaining just that, within your family. Using social media as a tool to antagonise, elicit support and reaction, abuse and indirectly attack your spouse/partner should be avoided and more significantly so where children are concerned. The internet never forgets as they say, and you may post in the heat of the moment and delete however, somewhere in the abyss, it can be found so be mindful.

A paramount consideration should be how the child/children of the relationship will feel in the future coming across posts where their parents have been disparaging towards each other or waging a war of words indirectly to draw attention to the fact that there is a breakdown of the relationship.

Do not get me wrong, social media has its advantages such as raising awareness of important issues in real time and sharing of information that can support many in various aspects of the law for example highlighting key issues such as domestic abuse and the support available to survivors, but it also has its disadvantages. In family disputes, there are many disadvantages to its use which must always be at the fore of the minds of all individuals.

Issues I have come across over the years have included the following:

  1. Providing details of an ongoing case including names of children and the location of a hearing which is prohibited.
  2. A celebratory post about a recent job role being acquired when dealing with issues around maintenance, but this information was not voluntarily disclosed, despite the ongoing duty to disclose in these types of cases.
  3. An update of relationship status which was crucial information in a financial remedy matter.
  4. An abusive post which negatively had an impact on the person who was a target of the post.
  5. Posting photographs of children of the family which is not agreed by all those involved with concerns around the impact of this.

These are just a few examples which caused the court a great deal of concern and indeed those involved. 

So, before you take to social media to seek for spectators to be judge and jury of your family law dispute, I would urge all individuals to pause, breathe, and reflect. Consider the impact the action you are about to take will have and the ripple effect of this on all. Remember that what you post may be admitted as evidence and it just takes one person to take a screenshot before you delete it. Think of the long-term implications of that post, comment, or narrative that you are presenting about your circumstances. What you share may also undermine your case. 

My view remains that sharing personal details of your family law issue on social media should be avoided when a relationship breaks down. Anger can get in the way as emotions are often high. I am not suggesting that you do not use social media at all, just be cautious about what you share and if you have any concerns about your case, then speak to your lawyer who will be able to provide you with advice tailored to your circumstances. 

Amanda Adeola is a contributor to Separating With Children 101′, 3rd edition, (Bath Publishing, 2023)

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The Early Days Of Separation

Humans are designed to cope with many onslaughts, but change continues to prove extremely challenging. How you manage the early days of separation or divorce has the potential to set the tone for the rest of the process.

When couples separate, they are often thrown into a period of uncertainty. Identities are changing from couple to single, from mum and dad together as a family unit to mum with children and dad with children. Depending on the circumstances and who decides to leave the family home, there are many questions that arise during the early days of separation. “Will we have to sell our home?” “I haven’t worked since we had children – how will we manage financially?” “What will our friends and family think?” “How much will divorce cost?”
“Will I cope on my own?” There seems to be so much to sort out both practically and emotionally and it comes at a time when at least one of you will be ‘all over the place’ emotionally due to the loss you are experiencing. This can make decision-making seem impossible. Who wants to agree the practicalities of legal issues and more importantly organise the children when they are devastated, angry and confused by loss? It can turn otherwise rational, clear-thinking mums and dads into what appears to be belligerent, stubborn, unreasonable people.

Take Your Time!

In those early days of separation or divorce, take your time if you can. Seek support from friends, family and professionals. Try not to make any big decisions too quickly.
Bear in mind that communication problems with your ex and all the pressures on family life you are now experiencing, like for many separating couples, will get better with time. It’s important to recognise that you and your ex will more than likely be in very different emotional places at the moment; different stress levels and anxieties will be making communication difficult. Taking the time to sometimes do nothing, to not react, give things a day or two, can prove very useful techniques.
What you have to remember is that if you have children, your ex is always going to be part of your life. That can be hard to take on board when you are feeling hurt and angry. If you can find a way to communicate with each other that focuses on the children, you will all benefit in the years to come.

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