Facebook in family law
Most of us relate to friends and family through online mediums including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A recently decided defamation case from Western Australia should serve as a reminder to separated parents and the public at large as to the possible consequences of reckless broadcasting on social media.
In the case of Dabrowski and Greeuw, the husband, Mr Dabrowski successfully sued his ex wife Ms Greeuw for defamation. Dabrowski alleged that Greeuw had damaged his reputation when she lied in alleging in Facebook posts that he had committed acts of domestic violence against her whilst they were married. The trial ran for 10 days during which time Greeuw attempted to prove that there was truth in her allegations, which she asserted was an appropriate defence to the husband’s claim. In his December 2014 judgement, WA District Judge Bowden found that Greeuw had indeed defamed Dabrowski. She could not prove beyond the balance of probabilities that such abuse had occurred. The District Judge found that Dabrowski had suffered damage to his reputation and ordered Greeuw to pay her ex-husband $12,500 in damages plus his legal costs.
This is a case particular to the WA defamation legislation. It should serve as a warning to parties to exercise decorum in their online behavior following separation.