I am going through a Divorce; can I share information with my family and friends for support?

Getting a divorce, division of assets and parenting orders can be a long and emotional process and people do seek to share their feelings with friends and family members. Although sharing can help you alleviate some of the negative emotions, stress and anger, one should be aware of what may and may not be shared.

There are strict rules about publishing the information of a Family Law Proceedings. These rules are there to protect the parties in the proceedings, especially when children are involved. Under s121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), a person must not publish or broadcast by any means the content or any account of the proceeding that can identify the parties, related parties or witness in the proceeding. Breach of this section is an indictable offence, that upon conviction can be punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment. In addition, the court could find the party who disseminate the information in contempt under s112AP.

One of the most famous cases that involve this section is the ‘Italian sisters’ case’ in 2012. In this case, a Queensland newspaper published the face and names of these children in an ongoing Family Law Proceedings. Not only did they publish personal information of the children, but many inside information were also released in the publication. Subsequently, the newspaper was found to be guilty of breaching s 121 of the Family Law Act and was fined $120,000.

Other examples include Xuarez & Vitela [2012] FAMca 574 and Lackey & Mae [2013] FMCAfam 284 which both involved a party of the proceedings ‘venting’ or speaking to others about matters of discovery within their proceedings. Publishing information on the internet and social media platforms. In both cases, the Court has found the party to have breached s121 of the Act and asked those comments to be removed from public domain.

As to when can you publish the information about your Family Law proceedings, there is no definitive answer at the time of this article. The legislation does not specify whether it only applies during the proceedings or does it only apply to the grant of the final orders. However, the legislation is in place to protect the wellbeing of the parties in the proceedings, it would be in your interest to refrain from publish information of the proceeding even after the final order is granted.

Contact Cogent Legal for advice if you are unsure about what information you can publish from a Family Law proceeding.