Leading family law firm Bross Bennett is warning just how damaging digital communications can be if used incorrectly, with detrimental effects going further than recipients and online communities, and right into courts of law.
Only this week a US court has slashed maintenance payments to an ex-wife because of her blog posts. Far too frequently users of social media don’t think before they post and don’t consider that once they post information, it is out there for just about anyone to see and use.
Says Sharon Bennett of Bross Bennett; “It’s important that everyone thinks about the possible consequences before they type. They don’t think about the impact of what they have done, and we have seen first hand just how damaging the written word can be in a court of law, especially in the case of divorcing couples who send aggressive tweets, texts or emails in the heat of the moment. People need to remember that not only can these pour fuel on an already flaming relationship, they can later be used against them as written evidence. Both outcomes are hugely damaging.”
If used correctly, modern technology can be very helpful. For divorcing couples in particular, texting and emailing can be a great way to help you avoid confrontational verbal conversations. Modern technology allows us the luxury of time to think and create a constructive response that can diffuse a situation and preserve your dignity, something that can be very hard face to face.”
The five steps to good social media etiquette
1. Before you post or send anything that may be inflammatory or controversial, wait for 24 hours, after which you’ll be able to consider what you’re writing more objectively. Try and think how your communication will be viewed if read out of context, perhaps by your child or a Judge.
2. Don’t respond to or initiate inflammatory language, and resist replying immediately to anything you do receive of this nature. If you feel you have to respond, adopt the 24 hour delay rule. Get your thoughts and feelings down on paper, but give yourself a day or two to reflect on your response.
3. Consider getting the input of your solicitor before you send anything other than the most simple of communications. They can give you invaluable and constructive advice and remove any sting that you may not even have been aware was there.
4. Do not ever vent your frustrations on Facebook or Twitter, where things can ‘mushroom’ and get out of hand. Anything of this nature can end up being viewed very unfavourably by a judge in a court of law and your children or family might be very hurt by it.
5. Treat correspondence as business-like and straight to the point, rather than emotional – there are better ways and places to express this.
- First Twitter injunction issued (telegraph.co.uk)