Facebook posts may breach domestic violence orders
A LEGAL expert says Queenslanders on domestic violence orders risk court sanctions if they continually post about their alleged victims, or harrass them, on social media.
Using the high-profile separation of controversial Sydney couple Salim Mehajer and Aysha Learmonth as an example, Brisbane family law specialist Jennifer Hetherington says courts may put "more weight" on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds when considering DVO applications.
Mr Mehajer's over-the-top marriage to Ms Learmonth, who has stopped using her husband's last name, made world headlines for its blatant show of wealth including closing an entire Sydney street.
Last month, a Sydney court extended an urgent 28-day apprehended violence order made by police against the one-time Auburn deputy mayor on behalf of Ms Learmonth.
Since their separation, Mr Mehajer has used social media to voice his views of their marriage.
"We will continue to breathe, even in water," he posted recently alongside a photo of the pair in "happier" times.
Ms Hetherington said courts could see Mr Mehajer's posts in a negative light.
"Increasingly we are seeing people fight their relationship splits via social media platforms and mainstream media are picking up on this and effectively giving the issues wider prominence," she said.
"If you have kids it doesn't look great to a judge if you have posted eleventy-billion messages about your ex and if you are trying to co-parent it makes this process harder."
Ms Hetherington said monitoring a former partner's social media pages was domestic violence in Queensland.
"Under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 the definition of domestic violence includes unauthorised surveillance of a person such as monitoring a person's account with a social networking internet site," she said.
"The issue the courts may have to address is to what degree an ex checking your Facebook or uploading their own posts about the relationship could constitute a breach of a DVO?"
- *For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
- ARM NEWSDESK