Divorce is not easy for anyone involved, especially if there are issues of custody and support that can't be amicably agreed upon. While many people — both men and women — take to social media to rant about a difficult divorce or simply seek advice from family or friends who have been through the same situation, it seems that some Facebook groups for divorced me are encouraging illegal behavior.
Buzzfeed News recently discovered a number of Facebook groups from Australia for divorced fathers. Hundreds of the members are upset with how Australia's Family Court system works are asking for advice on how to proceed, but a lot of the advice these men are receiving is illegal. In fact, many members are telling those seeking advice to "make video or audio recordings of their partners without their knowledge, to illegally record court proceedings, and to refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of Australian law."
Buzzfeed reports that many of the groups contain men who are seeking advice on divorce issues, looking for support but they also contain misogynistic memes as well as men complaining about how the court system is unfair to fathers. Forte Family Lawyers partner and the Law Council of Australia’s Family Law Section’s immediate past chair Wendy Kayler-Thomson told the website that people should always avoid getting and taking legal advice from the internet.
"The internet often contains outdated or misleading information about how the courts deal with family law cases, or what the law is on particular issues," she stated. She also said that advice to secretly record an ex could result in criminal charges. "Even if the court uses their discretion to admit the recording into evidence," Kayler-Thomson said. “That person still might be charged with a criminal offense.”
Even if someone made a secret recording in an area where it is legal, Women’s Services Network national director Karen Bentley said that it could paint the person doing the recording in a bad light in a legal proceeding. "It’s not respectful, and it could be considered controlling and coercive," said Bentley. "Not a healthy behavior."
Family law solicitor Adam Jones told Buzzfeed that for many men, social media becomes the one place they can turn for a sympathetic ear and free advice. "When you’re in a high conflict situation, you become anxious, and you become obsessed, and it becomes a bit of an echo chamber," he said. "Legal aid isn’t available unless you’re right down the bottom of the ladder. Facebook lawyers are, for many dads, the ‘go-to’ place."
The article has caused quite a reaction on Buzzfeed's Facebook page where both men and women are chiming in with their experiences regarding divorce, support, and custody. Although there are many different opinions shared, most tend to agree that taking advice from strangers in a Facebook group isn't always the best decision.