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Prenuptial agreements now include social media clauses

05th December 2016
By KerryJ in Family Law
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When it comes to arranging weddings, couples are not only worrying about the usual wedding preparations but they are now looking at entering into a prenuptial agreement to protect their assets, should the worst happen. Since 2010, the courts have seen the impact that prenuptial agreements can have when resolving financial disputes and have started to place even more importance on them.

However, a trend is now becoming apparent where the agreements are now including Social Media Clauses, this means that there is an element of control over what each party posts about the other party on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and it is possible that in some instances a penalty may be imposed on the guilty party who breaches the rules. Is a Social Media Clause something that couples should think about when setting up a prenuptial agreement?

There have been a number of instances where individuals had wished they had put some protection in place and one instance was one involving Sir John Sawers who was the head of MI6. His wife placed images of him on her Facebook page and they appeared all of a sudden in the media after they had been deleted from her Facebook page. In England and Wales, the courts fully understand that marriage offers protection of private and confidential information between couples. This was shown when the Duchess of Argyll managed to stop her husband from selling embarrassing photos of her to the media in 1967.

In 2006 the court noted that if someone says that married life is treating them fine it does not mean that the public can have access to any cracks that may appear further down the line. These details however, can only remain protected if they are kept private.

The courts and family law solicitors have also acknowledged the importance of keeping pre-marriage information private if an individual becomes famous whilst married. An example of this is Kate Winslet's husband, they married in 2012 and he managed to avoid semi-naked pictures of him appearing in the media when he was given an injunction to stop the Sun from publishing them.

The photos were taken at a private party before their marriage took place but they were uploaded to Facebook without any thought by a friend. The court, when it granted the injunction, acknowledged that he was not a figure known by the public at the time the photos were taken. They also noted that he should have a reasonable expectation of privacy and that the publishing of the photos would cause distress and harm to those children that Kate Winslet had in a previous marriage.

The privacy of Children is something that the courts are concerned about and recently Paul Weller claimed damages from photos that were published by the Mail Online of his Children whilst shopping in Los Angeles. Their faces had not been pixelated and the court agreed that even though they were in a public place a certain level of privacy should be put in place.

However, in the majority of cases, social media clauses included within prenuptial agreements would be unnecessary and the courts would be highly unlikely to enforce the penalties in place for breaching the rules, these clauses may also deduct from the lawfulness of a prenuptial agreement. The law should protect couples and they should be able to rely on the law to offer confidentiality and the privacy that may help to protect them from those things that should be kept private.

K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, a dedicated team of family solicitors in Basingstoke, London, Reading, Windsor and Henley-on-Thames.
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