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Can Social Media Affect My Custody Rights?

By Sheryl Rentz on March 2, 2020

What you post on social media can be used as evidence in a child custody case. Information, even those considered private, that are culled from your profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, your dating profiles, and blogs can color your image as a responsible parent in a child custody case. This kind of evidence can be persuasive – and very damaging. That’s why we tell all of our clients to stay off social media as soon as we sign their case.

What Kinds of Posts on Your Social Media Can Influence Your Custody Rights Case?

Posts, tweets, or messages could give the impression that you are prioritizing your social life over spending time with your children. For example, an Instagram picture of you having drinks with friends could be presented, along with accusations that you failed to attend an important event, such as your child’s dance recital or soccer game. If you are in a custody dispute, the opposing party may present these posts to try to establish that you are unfit to care for your children. Posts about drugs, even as a joke, may trigger a child welfare investigation.

Not only can your posts affect your custody case, but also other people’s posts. If a friend or acquaintance posts a photo of you at a bar or party and then tags you in it, it could be used against you in court. Even photos of you at happy hour with coworkers may seem innocent but can be misconstrued. These posts are significantly harder to defend or have taken down, as it requires the consent or testimony of the user. To avoid these situations, it is best to temporarily disable or deleted your social media account, as private accounts can still be tagged in photos and videos.

Alcohol or Drug Use or ‘Partying’ Behavior Posts

Posts with images of you engaged in partying, even if entirely harmless, could be presented to try to establish that you have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse – one of the primary reasons a judge may award custody to the other parent.

Privacy

There has been much talk about privacy and social media. If you post any personal information about your child, it may be asserted by the other parent’s attorney that you have failed to protect your child’s right to privacy. Never post nude images of a baby or child, such as pictures of them taking a bath as a toddler.

Complaints

Airing grievances about your child’s behavior or complaining about the actions of the other parent may seem harmless at the time but can be very damaging when presented in court. The best approach to social media is to post nothing – no matter how much you would like to share your thoughts or feelings. Everything you post can be used against you – which is not uncommon in child custody cases.

Weekends Away

In shared custody, the time you have with your child carries weight. If you choose to post images of a weekend away with friends when it is “your weekend,” it could give the impression that you put your social life above spending time with your children.

Provocative Images

Sexy images posted on social media can become a problem in custody rights cases. Provocative images posted on dating sites could give the impression that you lack judgment and could put your children at risk. In addition, do not change your profile to “single” when involved in a divorce.

Disclosure of Confidential Information

If you disclose any information about an ongoing custody case, such as information from mediation, you could face serious legal repercussions. Remember, using a messaging app on social media is not private – that information could be brought to light by the opposing party. If it proves you revealed confidential information, you could face legal trouble, including charges of contempt of court.

When your child’s future is at stake, it is best to avoid posting anything on social media, and avoid even a “like” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platforms. Even an innocent post could be misconstrued and cause you serious trouble. If you are concerned about a child custody matter, the quality of your family law attorney can make all the difference in the outcome. Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (866) 290-9292 (toll-free) for a free consultation.

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Posted in: Child Custody

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