As canvassed in previous posts Facebook and other social media sites are being used widely within the legal system in various ways. (Facebook Photo Privacy Case and Tagging, Is a Judge Checking Out Your Facebook Profile, Facebook Used To Serve Documents Online, Citizens Use Facebook To Dob In Police, I can’t Face Being Your Facebook Friend)
Facebook and other social media sites are being used in family law litigation, calling into question the credibility and/or reliability of evidence sourced through such media sites (see Jesmier v Delormier)
In a paper called Social Media and Family Law, the Honourable Justice Gary Watts has surveyed the relevant case law in Australian family law proceedings, drawing from practical examples, to highlight the role that evidence sourced from social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter is being treated by Judges in Family Court proceedings.
The paper draws from examples where evidence from social media sites has arisen for consideration in proceedings ranging from parenting orders to Hague Convention Child Abductions and contraventions of Orders.
The Paper considers a wide range of issues relating to social media as it impacts upon relationships and families, whilst also considering the implications of a party using improperly obtained information from Facebook via hacking or cracking of passwords.
There is a discussion about the use of s138 Evidence Act 1955 (Cth), acknowledged in s69ZT(1) Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), investing a Judge with the discretion to exclude evidence obtained improperly or illegally. Justice Watts foreshadows that this section and the guidelines governing how the discretion will be exercised will assume increasing significance in the future in the context of the admissibility of social media evidence in Family Law proceedings.