A family law expert has questioned whether Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner’s book following her attempt to snatch her children in Lebanon could breach family law legislation.
Ms Faulkner inked a deal with Hachette Australia to tell her story following the botched attempt to get her children back from their father Ali Elamine in Lebanon, with a 60 Minutes crew in tow.
Brisbane family law specialist Jennifer Hetherington said the book, All For My Children, could pose legal issues with Australian legislation making it illegal to identify children in custody issues.
Ms Hetherington, an accredited family law specialist with Hetherington Legal, said Ms Faulkner’s book could also send the wrong message to couples in custody disputes.
“If you go on social media and tell the world about your fight with your ex over the kids, and identify them, it could rebound badly on you in the Family Court,” she said.
“Ms Faulkner has a public profile because of the Lebanon fiasco in April, but the Family Law Act applies to anyone in custody proceedings before the court.
“What especially concerns me is how it may influence other people who may assume it’s then OK to air their custody disputes online on custody forums and social media like Facebook.”
Ms Hetherington said section 121 of the Family Law Act was clear in its ban on identifying parties involved in matters before the Family Court, with the penalty for breaching it up to a year in prison.
“To me, as a family lawyer, there are warning alarms going off everywhere with this idea especially as media reports show the children’s faces are plastered over the book’s cover,” she said.
The Australian Family Court granted Ms Faulkner full custody of the children but she gave up that right in exchange for Mr Elamine dropping his abduction charges in Lebanon.
But Hachette Australia head of publicity Anna Egelstaff said All for My Children was “rigorously and legally fact-checked”, did not breach any Family Court imposed restrictions and the company had no concerns.
“As you will be aware, this case has been widely reported on and Ali Elamine has spoken numerous times on Australian media since the events in Beirut,” Ms Egelstaff said.
“Until the book, Sally Faulkner has not told her story.
“All contact between Sally and her children has been blocked by Mr Elamine and she has no idea what the children have been told about her disappearance from their life.”
Ms Egelstaff said in the book, Ms Faulkner’s children were identified as the reason she wrote the account.
“To let them know their whole story when they are old enough to go searching,” she said.
“We are very proud to be supporting Sally Faulkner.”
All For My Children will be released on Tuesday.
Ms Hetherington said relationship breakdowns were increasingly playing out on social media.
“My advice is – don’t do it. It can really damage your credibility,” she said.
“Angry messages posted on social media forums are out of your control the moment you upload them.
“Worse, if you publish details of your custody dispute and identify any of the parties, the penalties for doing so are costly and unpleasant, but also have the likelihood of negatively impacting your children.”
Australian Story will screen part two of its two-part special on Ms Faulkner on Monday at 8pm.
Part two will look at what went wrong on the ground in Beirut and hear from clear players.
Ms Faulkner will detail the harrowing 24 hours between the abduction and her arrest, her time in a Lebanese jail and her heartbreaking farewell to her children.
Read More: Sydney Morning Herald
By: Felicity CaldwellBack to News
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