Facebook and breakups: Posting about your ex

Like it or not, we live in the age of social media, where posts made online can make or break a relationship. Here, the experts from Justice Family Lawyers take us through the do’s and dont’s of public venting during (or after!) a breakup. 

Have you ever been suspicious about your partner’s mobile phone or Facebook account? Unfortunately, suspicions like these are often justified – with recent statistics showing that 30% of Australian Tinder users are already married!

In fact, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently claimed that Facebook actually helped expose cheaters. He said he had received praise from all over the world, particularly from wives, who had thanked him, as it was now “harder for cheating men to live double lives.”

Social media and online communication presents both traps and opportunities in family law matters.

If you are involved in a family law matter yourself, assume that everything you do, post, upload or comment on, could be used as evidence.

What the stats say

The stats show that the unfaithful are increasingly looking online for ways to escape their current relationships. And sadly, affairs are not limited to physical interactions.

  • One in three affairs are now starting through online interactions.
  • 47% of users admitted to emotional cheating on Facebook. That’s nearly half of people owning up to the fact that they are engaging in behavior that would not be OK if their partners found out!

Emotional cheating should not be taken lightly, it causes huge problems in relationships and results in trust and communication issues.

Facebook, with its ability to connect with everyone you’ve ever met or had sex with, is unfortunately the perfect facilitator for emotional infidelity.

Facebook and breakups

There’s no doubt the Facebook platform makes connecting easier, which can cause problems in relationships.

“Facebook makes it easier to reach out to old flames, exes from the past, and the one that just got away,” says Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles. “Excessive time spent on social media has been shown to negatively impact romantic relationships.”

So, why would you stay in a relationship where your partner has cheated on you on multiple occasions?

Relationship experts say there are a number of reasons.

Marriages are about more than just love- and love isn’t the only reason people stay with a partner who has been unfaithful. Some people are afraid of negative consequences of losing the relationship, such as financial instability, impact on children, or change in social status or network.

Facebook posts that can be used as evidence in court

Can Facebook posts and photos be used as evidence in court? In short, yes, Facebook posts and photos are admissible as evidence in court.

“We quite often use Facebook posts and photos to prove another parent’s incapacity to be a child-focused parent,” says Hayder Shkara, principal of Justice Family Lawyers.

  • Photos of boats, cars and properties that can be used to prove that a party is hiding assets from the court
  • Photos showing a parent drinking or partying when the children are in their care may be used to prove the incapacity to be a child-focused parent
  • Posts that criticise a former partner can be used as evidence the parent is not encouraging a relationship between that parent and the children. 

How is cheating seen under Australian law?

In Australia, we have a no-fault divorce system. This means that any party can apply for divorce without any cause or reason.

Infidelity is not punishable under Australian law, and cannot be used to leverage ‘better’ orders from your divorce proceedings.

The more relevant question to ask however is what weight the Court will give to your evidence?

The Court may give little weight to Facebook posts, and therefore it may not have an impact upon the final decision. However, this will entirely depend upon the nature of the evidence and is a matter for the discretion of the Judge dealing with a matter on that day.

For more information on family law, contact Justice Family Lawyers on (02) 8089 3148 

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