We assist people daily in relation to the breakdown of their relationships. In a Family Law dispute there is a requirement by each party to make 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 such as 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 from smart phones, iPads, connection to digital communication, and access to social media. It 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 log or post something about how they are feeling. This can be particularly telling in Family Law proceedings when one party is disgruntled at their spouse. Once this information (whether pictorial or text) is available on the domain of 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, breaches of Orders, or threats of action. Telecommunication providers have faced an increase in Subpoenas seeking this type of information in Family Law disputes and we as Solicitors 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.
To learn more information in relation to this issue, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law team on (02) 9523 5535.