As with many topics and questions concerning Georgia family law and Georgia divorce, the answer to the above posed question in not a simple one. As exhibited by a criminal case out New Jersey, a court can indeed limit the contact one party has with another during a pending legal action. In that case, a Hunterdon County, New Jersey Superior Court judge ordered a mother who plead guilty to a charge related to her attempt to kidnap her children to refrain from blogging about or mentioning her children or ex-husband on her Facebook page. Despite the court’s order, the mother continued to post about her children and ex-husband, and appealed the court’s order, claiming, among other things, that the order violated her right to free speech. In this case, the appellate court ruled that the Superior Court judge did indeed have the authority to order the mother not to mention her children or ex-husband on Facebook.
When it comes to divorce matters specifically, Georgia courts have similar authority. In fact, once a divorce is filed in Georgia, an order of the court called a Domestic Relations Standing Order is automatically put in place. Among other things, this order prohibits the parties from mistreating or interfering with each other. For example, Fulton County’s Automatic Domestic Standing Order states, in relevant part:
“Each party is hereby enjoined and restrained from doing, or attempting to do, or threatening to do, any act injuring, maltreating, vilifying, molesting, or harassing the adverse party or the child(ren) of the parties.”
This order not only applies to activity conducted in person, but also applies to online activity as well. As with any other court order, of one party violates the terms of this standing order, the court may find the offending party in contempt of court and penalize that party accordingly. Thus, when it comes to divorce actions in Georgia, a Georgia divorce court may not be able to preemptively limit a party’s Facebook or other online activity, a court may find a party in contempt of court for failure to abide by the terms of the court’s Automatic Domestic Standing Order.