Publication of Information and your Family Law Proceedings
For most people, family law proceedings are stressful / an emotional process. You have separated from a spouse – you are now left to nut out the care arrangements for your kids (if you had them with your former spouse) and / or divvy up your property.
Most matters can be resolved without having to involve the Court. But there are many people, that need to go to Court for help with that.
As a part of the Court process documents are prepared to assist the Court / the parties to resolve the matter. Documents like Affidavits, Family Reports, Psych Reports and documents are often obtained once subpoenaed.
Reading another person’s Affidavit, a Family Report, a Psych Report can be infuriating. The parties in the matter will often find themselves venting to friends, family, sometimes counsellors, and on social media (good old Facebook) – often about the actual content of documents produced for the Court matter. I am also finding that parties will share documents with their friends and family as well.
What might seem like something innocent – may have very serious consequences.
A post on Facebook, providing documents to third parties from the Court proceedings (without the Court’s permission – including to your counsellor or psychologist) or even discussing the specifics of your matter to a third party may amount to a breach of section 121 of the Family Law Act if what you have said identifies a party involved in the Court matter.
What does Section 121 say? What are the consequences?
Section 121 restricts the publication of any accounts of any proceedings, to the public or a section of the public or parts of any proceedings (subject to certain exceptions) that identify the parties or persons involved in the case.
The punishment for breaching section 121 is serious.
The offence is punishable by imprisonment (gaol) for up to one year.
Not only that, what you have said / shared to a third party or on social media could be taken out of context and used against you in evidence in your family law matter.
What does this mean?
While you can vent to your friends and family about the fact that you are involved in a family law matter that is in Court – you can’t speak about the specifics to them if that information has come from material produced in those Court proceedings and you certainly can’t vent about it on Facebook or on social media – if the content identifies parties or persons involved in the matter.
If in doubt – don’t talk about it, don’t post it on Facebook.
What happens if I need to provide documents from my family law matter to a third party for a genuine reason?
You need to ask the Court for permission to provide specific documents to a third party.
I recommend that you discuss this with your solicitor (if you already have one) or that you go and see a solicitor (if you are representing yourself in a family law matter) and you think that you might need to ask the Court’s permission to release documents or information or if you have questions about your obligations.
Where to from here?
You are probably in one of three head spaces right now:
You liked the information, you found it interesting - but that’s all you wanted for now.
This blog post resonated with you but you are just not ready yet to do anything and just want to look at more information about Family Law – I suggest you look at the other Free Information we have on our website which includes FAQ's as well as Helpful Links and Contacts that may come in handy.
You are wanting more information about what you need to know after separation or you are ready to do something about your problem right now. If that is the case, then book an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors by clicking here to make an online booking or why not start online!