Using Facebook Information in Court

September 3, 2013
Ron Shulman

Article written by Ron Shulman

Facebook is here to stay.  (And while we’re on the topic, check out Shulman Law Firm’s Facebook page!).

As I’ve written before, one of the more unconventional uses for Facebook – besides the more common ones of keeping in touch with friends and family – is as a source of evidence in Family Law litigation.  For example information (such as photos, comments, and posts) that are taken from Facebook could conceivably be used in connection with:

  • Custody disputes:   For example, Facebook information might be used to malign or cast doubt on your Ex’s fitness or ability to parent.
  • Support:   If you are a support-paying spouse, it can be used to gather information about whether your Ex is dating or living with someone new, or to disprove a claim that he or she is unable to work and become economically self-sufficient (which can affect the scope of your financial obligation to him or her).
  • Litigation:  It can be used as a medium by which you and your Ex can harass or threaten each other, as a means of exerting pressure to settle, or to acquiesce to an improvident settlement.
  • Credibility:  Information gathered from Facebook could be used to impugn your Ex’s credibility, for example by providing evidence that certain relationships, trips, activities, family functions, or incurred expenses did or did not happen.

The availability of Facebook as a source of evidencein Family Law will also give rise to procedural issues (e.g. to what extent your lawyer and that of your Ex can demand access to Facebook information as part of the normal discovery procedure), and also privacy concerns (e.g. to what extent should your Facebook privacy settings affect a court’s ability to use evidence and information that you have made available online, even if only to a limited audience)?

Do you think Facebook evidence should be used in Canadian courts?  What are your thoughts?

Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to the steps and processes involved in separating and getting divorced in Ontario.   Contact us to set up a consultation.