The use of email, Facebook and Skype among other social networking sites has changed the way we communicate and keep in touch with friends and family all around the world. These developments have been of particular benefit to separated families where children are involved. However, there is also a real opportunity to do irreparable damage to your family law matter and ongoing relationship with your former partner or children if you are not aware of how these changes in communication can affect your situation.

Greater access to your children

As part of a relationship breakdown that involves children, it is inevitable that children will spend time, however frequent or infrequent, in different households. With increasing access to technology such as Skype, email and mobile phones, it is now easier than ever to keep in contact with your children and bridge the gap between households. As a consequence, courts now have an expectation, if parties live far away from each other, or if time spent with one parent is infrequent, that Skype or some other technology will be available to enable communication to take place.

How technology can help Family Lawyers

Family lawyers can now also use Facebook and email communication in a number of areas to assist in cases where the other party is being uncooperative. Family lawyers may now use Facebook to serve documents, to locate a parent that has gone missing with a child or to communicate with another party who does not have legal representation.

When does it all go wrong?

Misusing social networking sites like Facebook can cause irreparable damage to your matter. It is common for parties to post negative or defaming comments about their former partner when they are angry or upset during a relationship breakdown. In some cases, parties may even post photos of themselves doing illegal or inappropriate activities, sometimes having occurred in the presence of children.

It is important to remember what you say and do is not private when it is shared on social media. Even if you have blocked your former partner, it is likely you have mutual friends who still have access to your accounts and anything found may be used as evidence against you.

Don’t use technology to harass your ex

These developments in technology are fantastic for the children of separated families and for maintaining a consistent relationship with both parents. Abusing this form of communication, by using it too frequently, using it contrary to the orders or using it to harass your former partner, rather than spending time with the children, will all have long term negative consequences on your matter. Similarly, if you are the parent facilitating access through these technologies depriving them of this contact will also be taken seriously by the courts.

Technology when used correctly provides enormous assistance to separated parties. However, if not used as intended, provides real scope to do significant damage.