In this article, the author – Austin Chessell, a family law solicitor and mediator at Shortlands Solicitors and head of FAMIA (Family Mediation In Action), with more than 7 years of experience in the field – looks at the use of Facebook as part of the reason for divorce and separation.
Note that this material is made available as informative material only and that it does not in any way or form constitute legal advice.
January and September are very busy times of the year for both Family Solicitors and Family Mediators who are acting for clients who want a divorce after the Christmas period. The first Monday of the New Year is known as D-Day.
Lately we have seen more clients citing Facebook instances in divorce petitions for the facts of unreasonable behaviour and adultery.
Social networking websites such as Facebook give you the chance to reveal your innermost thoughts about your spouse or partner and your current relationship status.
However, you should be cautious and think about what you reveal as your spouse may use your Facebook posts in a petition against you if you do separate.
Unreasonable behaviour and adultery are also two of the grounds where the petitioning spouse could seek a costs order from the court against you.
If you do want to divorce in an amicable way, a Family Mediator may be able assist you.
Mediators cannot help you draft the divorce petition or provide legal advice but they may be able to help you agree what fact to divorce by and what examples could be used in the petition for the particulars section of the document so that there are no shocks or disagreements from the Respondent when the petition is issued.
The mediator can then let you know if it would be a good idea for either or both of the parties to see a solicitor if you do require legal advice about the divorce or any other legal issues that arise.
The amount of petitions which are filed at court and then the Respondent asks for the petition to be amended after it has been issued are amazing.
If amendments do take place, this incurs a further court fee along with the solicitor’s additional costs for making the changes.
If what is put in the petition is agreed between both parties before the document is filed at court, this can save time and money whilst also keeping relations on a good platform when moving onto discuss any financial settlement and/or children contact and resident arrangements.