Legal Eagle: Be careful what you post on social media

I am currently going through care proceedings with the Local Authority threatening to remove my child. I have found dealing with the Social Worker difficult and this has made my situation very stressful, eventually leading me to vent my frustration about her on social media. The Social Worker is now saying that I have damaged my case. My ex-partner who has put himself forward as carer for our child is also now posting abusive messages saying that he will use my post as evidence against me. Please can you provide advice regarding what I can post on social media regarding my case and what the Court is likely to do in relation to my recent postings.

Stock computer keyboard - online bullying
Stock computer keyboard - online bullying

Over the last 20 years social media has revolutionised the way society operates however as with any major change, this has brought both positive and negative connotations. Social media can be helpful to families involved in care proceedings, for example it could provide a means of indirect contact for parents with their children. However, on the other hand the ability to share your opinion with hundreds of others within a matter of seconds can have serious negative consequences and is entirely at odds with the highly regulated and closed environment of the family court.

You must bear in mind that you are trying to prove that you are working with social workers to resolve any areas of concern. For this reason, it is unwise to publicly express negative opinions of your social worker. Everyone has an article 10 right of freedom of expression, however this ‘right’ has to be balanced against the necessity for confidentiality in matters concerning Court proceedings relating to children.

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It is vital that parents subject to intervention from the Local Authority are able to express their views about their situation but any parent involved in care proceedings also has a right to free legal advice therefore in future, the best option would be to air concerns about the Social Worker or any other aspect of the case with your solicitor who could advise you whether your concerns are sufficient to warrant some form of action.

Finally, in relation to the messages from your ex-partner I know from many recent experiences that information on social media is often used in court as evidence. Therefore, I would advise you in future to not only be mindful of what you are posting on social media but also to save any messages you receive and bring them to the attention of your solicitor as these could be used as evidence in court proceedings.

l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has many specialist solicitors who can advise on issues surrounding childcare. To speak to a solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] For more information visit