CAN I PUBLISH DETAILS OF FAMILY COURT PROCEEDINGS ON FACEBOOK OR ELSEWHERE
You cannot publish details of Family Court proceedings where the publication identifies the parties or other matters as set out in this article and the relevant Section of the Family Law Act. This includes Facebook or postings to any social media or otherwise on the internet.
Section 121 of the Family Law Act also includes the Federal Circuit Court in its family law jurisdiction under the Family Law Act. It is an indictable offence against section 121(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 (and punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year ) for a person to:-
publish in a newspaper or periodical publication;
by radio broadcast or television or other electronic means (which includes mobile phone text, internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites);
or otherwise disseminate to the public or to a section of the public
any account of any proceedings or any part of any proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 that identifies a party to the proceedings, a person who is or alleged to be related to or associated with a party to the proceedings or a witness in the proceedings.
The “account of proceedings or of any part of proceedings” will be in breach of s 121 if it contains particulars of the name, title, pseudonym or alias of the person, the address of any premises at which the person resides or works or the locality which such premises are situated, the physical description or the style of dress of a person, any employment or occupation engaged in professional practice or calling issued by the person or any official or honorary position held by the person, the relationship of a person to identified relatives of the person or association of a person with identified friends or identify businesses official or professional acquaintances of the person, recreational interests or the political, philosophical or religious beliefs or interests of the person or any real or personal property in which the person has an interest or with which the person is otherwise associated, and where the particulars are sufficient to identify the person to a member of the public or to a member of a section of the public to which the account is disseminated.
There are exceptions where the publication will not be an offence against section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 and these are:-
the communication is made to persons concerned in proceedings in any court of pleading, transcript of evidence or other document to use in connection with those proceedings; or
the communication of any pleading, transcript of evidence or other document is made to a body that is responsible for disciplining members of the legal profession in a state or territory or persons concerned in disciplinary proceedings against a member of the legal profession in a State or Territory being proceedings before a body responsible for disciplining members of the legal profession in that State or Territory; or
communication of any pleading, transcript of evidence or other document for the purpose of facilitating the making of a decision as to whether assistance by way of legal aid should be granted, continued or provided in a particular case to a body that grants assistance by way of legal aid; or
the publishing of a notice or report pursuant to a direction of a Court; or
the publication of court lists of proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 identified by reference to names of the parties that are to be dealt with by the Court; or
the publishing of any publication bone fide intended primarily for use by the members of any profession being a separate volume or part of a series of law reports or any other publication of a technical character; or
the publication or other dissemination of an account of proceedings or of any part of proceedings to a person who is a member of the profession in connection with the practice by that person of that profession or in the course of any form of professional training in which the person is involved or to an individual who is a party to any proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 in connection with the conduct of those proceedings or to a person who is a student in connection with the studies of that person; or
publication of accounts of proceedings where those accounts had been approved by the court.
If you are unsure of your obligations then you should contact us for advice. An offence of this nature can be referred to the Australian Federal Police by the Courts if they become aware of it during proceedings or the matter may be reported to the Australian Federal Police for investigation by an individual.