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Waring parents using Facebook as a weapon in family law cases have lost custody of children and been warned they could even face criminal charges.
A father won custody of his two children last year after their mother posted on Facebook: “Quick question, does anyone know if you can hire a suicide bomber for a family function?
“Not my family, for an entire lot of low life scum.”
The mother was found to have falsely claimed it was the father who had been unreasonable and had refused to see his kids.
In another case, a wife was granted maintenance of $3560 a week despite her husband claiming he was impecunious after his Twitter account revealed he had bought a $171,000 luxury car, flew first class overseas and drank Dom Perignon.
“There are examples of many people shooting off their mouths and embarrassing themselves and jeopardising their cases,” family law specialist Jason Walker of Gadens Lawyers said yesterday.
He said he advised his clients to be “sensible” because once somethi ng was posted online it was almost impossible to remove it. Court orders regularly now ban the use of social media in connection with the case.
Some parents have come close to being prosecuted for breaching the strict family law rules that prohibit the identification of anyone involved in a court case by posting details on social media.
One father secretly filmed his ex-wife picking up their young daughter in a car park as the child was crying and posted it on Youtube believing it would bolster his case for custody. It is not known whether it worked.
In another case, a Facebook post allegedly placed by the daughter of warring parents criticised her mother, who the court said was “an advocate for domestic law reform”. The father and his associated companies were banned by the court from broadcasting anything to do with the dispute.< /o>
‘We are seeing judgments starting to mention social media a lot more’.
“People need to be very careful as their social media posts could result in a criminal charge,” President of the Law Council of Australia, Arthur Moses, SC, said.
“Emotions often run very high in family law matters but it is vital for people to make measured and rational decisions, especially when it comes to posting on social media.
“When posting information online all people must be aware of the potential legal ramifications and the impact this could have on cases, and on children involved in these matters.”
Contempt of court carries a jail sentence of up to five years.
In November last year, one father was placed on a nine-month good behaviour bond after he posted a video, created a Facebook page and posted photographs and commentaries of his two children, aged four and two involved in a high-profile case.
Justice David Berman said the man also set up a petition calling for the re-trial of the children’s mother. Details of the trial cannot be reported.
“He gave an interview which resulted in an article being published an online newspaper on in early 2018 and in the print newspaper on later the same month 2018 and set up an online petition calling for the mother’s re-trial,” the judge said.
“Further videos were posted of both children.”
The judge said the father had not realised at the time the impact his posts would have on the children.
Another mother was last year granted full custody of her three children aged 13, 10 and seven, after their father, who claimed the mother had been manipulating the children, posted on Facebook.
“Over my dead fn body will these weak gutless heartless uneducated fuks continue this child abuse n attemts to kill me watch this space?!,” he posted complete with spelling errors.
Family law specialist Antonella Sanderson said it was obvious the judges were getting more and more frustrated.
“We are seeing judgments starting to mention social media a lot more,” Ms Sanderson of Family Law Matters said.
“I tell my clients, if you want to rant, don’t post, ring me.”
Two men arrested last year allegedly part of a secret underground network helping women abduct their children and hide after bitter Family Court disputes have been charged with aiding and abetting the illegal publication of Family Court proceedings through social media posts.