Every day our Family Law team assists people during the breakdown of their relationships. In a family law dispute, there is a requirement that each party makes full and frank disclosure of all relevant information once they have separated, to assist in the negotiation of their family law matter. The process is known as “discovery” and it allows each party to discover information from the other side that may be important to the case.
Throughout the years, discovery has included the provision of financial documents, tax returns, bank statements, credit card information and valuations in relation to the value of assets.
In the digital age, we have now seen the emergence of parties holding multiple electronic devices including smart phones, iPads and computers, all having connection to digital communications and social media. Technology has changed what is now considered “discoverable” material.
Statistics tell us that more people than ever are using digital equipment and media. People think nothing of sharing their most intimate moments online, or taking the time to post something about how they are feeling. This can be particularly telling in family law proceedings where one party is disgruntled with their spouse. Once this information (whether pictorial or text) is available on the Internet, each party may have access to potentially damaging evidence against the other.
More and more in the practice of family law, we are receiving pictures of text messages exchanged between parties showing inappropriate communications, which may evidence a breach of Orders, or threats of action. Tele-communication providers have faced an increase in Subpoenas seeking this type of information in family law disputes and we as Lawyers have been successful in introducing screen shots of text messages appearing on our client’s phones as evidence of improper communication.
Take it, as a warning, that if you are involved in a family law dispute you should be cautious in your use of social media and electronic communication. Remember that once the information is out there it can always be gathered and used against you in the course of your family law proceedings. For more information relating to this issue, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Team on 9523 5535.