Highgate lawyers warn divorcing couples should “think before they type”
� A Highgate family law firm has warned divorcing couples going through court that posting catty comments about each other online might not be a good idea.
Earlier this month a US court slashed maintenance payments to an ex-wife because of her blog posts and Bross Bennett has stepped in to warn divorcing couples in this country of the dangers of social media.
The unmasking of Ryan Giggs as the Premier League footballer who had an affair with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas has only this week proved the power of Twitter.
For those struggling to reconcile the worlds of social media and divorce, the Highgate legal duo has laid out a handy five-point guide of the dos and do nots (see panel, right).
Sharon Bennett, of Bross Bennett, said: “It’s important that everyone thinks about the possible consequences before they type.
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“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.
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“Increasingly when we are in court we see emails printed off and used as evidence. We always encourage our clients to think before they type and we try to educate our clients on the five steps to good social media etiquette.”
But while they acknowledge the dangers of social media, and, by extension, ‘modern technology’, Bross Bennett are keen to defend its use in certain circumstances. Ms Bennett said: “If used correctly, modern technology can be very helpful, but only if people know how to use it to their advantage, rather than their disadvantage.”
= Before you post or send anything that may be inflammatory or controversial, wait for 24 hours. You’ll then be able to consider what you’re writing more objectively. Try to think through how your communication will be viewed if read out of context, perhaps by your child or a judge.
= Don’t respond to or initiate inflammatory language, and resist replying immediately to anything you do receive of this nature. Reflect on your response.
= Consider obtaining 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.
= 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 court and your family might be hurt by it.
= Treat correspondence as business-like and straight to the point, rather than emotional – there are better ways and places to express your feelings.