How Social Media Can Affect Child Custody Cases
The best interest of the child(ren) always takes precedence in court proceedings, especially child custody matters. Courts will consider a host of factors when determining the child’s best interest, including:
- Both parent’s capacity and commitment to working with one another to raise the child as well as foster the relationship between each parent and child
- Both parent’s future obligations after litigation, including the responsibilities a parent may choose to delegate to a third-party
- Both parent’s ability to provide for the child based on their financial status, parenting abilities, and health status
- Both parent’s ability to provide the child with a reliable routine and structure, regarding discipline and consistent meal and bedtimes
- The child’s living situation thus far (in terms of the stability of the home and which parent has been the primary caregiver thus far)
- The child’s physical and mental wellbeing with consideration to any allegations of domestic violence and/or substance abuse issues
- The child’s preferences, in cases where the child is deemed capable of making such a determination
- Any evidence that either party willingly made false accusations to the court about abuse, negligence, or abandonment
- Any information learned from those involved in the child’s life, such as family friends, teachers, etc.
- Any other factors, including geographical limitations, etc., that will have a bearing on the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule
Is Social Media Evidence Admissible?
Parents can submit evidence to the court to protect their interests and substantiate any claims, including but not limited to information, photos, and videos discovered via either parent’s social media posts. These posts may substantiate claims that one party is:
- Harassing the other parent
- Acting vengefully rather than acting in the child’s best interest
- Struggling with a substance abuse issue
- A danger to the child’s mental or physical wellbeing
- Unable to properly care for the child
Social Media Do’s & Don’ts
While parents often caution their children when it comes to their online presence and activity, they do not realize the dangers social media poses to them regarding their custody case. What may be an innocent, normal post to you can be seen in any light to a judge/court. For instance, a post about being late to a school pick-up (and related posts/evidence) can be used to imply a parent is unreliable. Or an Instagram story of a fun night at your home with friends can be used to show a parent’s inability to maintain a stable home environment. Or a Twitter thread about how awful the other parent is can be seen as harassment, defamation, or an inability to co-parent on your part.
While you likely have a reason to be upset or sad, you should be mindful of what you are posting and sharing—even if your account is “private.” When utilizing social media, you should consider:
- Ensuring your account is private. You never know who may take or share screenshots of your posts, so even if your account is private your posts are still discoverable.
- Limiting your social media usage. If posting on social media is second nature to you, you may consider taking a temporary hiatus. What you post can be used as evidence and even taken out of context by the opposing counsel or court. As you share and post online, think about how each post can be misconstrued if it is used in court.
- Not posting about your ex/the other parent. Venting online about your frustrations or the other parent can also be misconstrued as harassment or ill intent, which is why you should not post about the other party.
- Not discussing the case online. Sharing about the court proceedings can be seen as a lack of discretion or even an offense against the judge/court.
- Removing some followers. Some followers on social media may be closer to the other parent, which may lead to them sharing what you post or do with the other parent.
- Asking your friends and family to consider what they post as well. What your friends, family, or coworkers post can also be entered into evidence. Remind them that one of the best ways they can help you is to monitor what they post as well.
It is important to note that: even after a custody decision is made and finalized, you should continue to be mindful of your social media usage as either party can file to have the orders modified. Modifications typically involve a change in circumstances or allegations of abuse or abandonment; however, your social media posts can be brought back to light.
Contact Our Child Custody Attorney Today
At Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office, our firm has helped clients successfully settle their child custody cases, and our attorney can help you:
- Prepare for court by collecting evidence (i.e. written testimonies, school or medical records, social media posts, etc.)
- Consider whether joint or sole custody is best for you or possible
- Create a parenting plan that honors your preferences and the child’s best interests
- Be advised of possible case outcomes throughout the proceedings
- Protect your parental rights
Retaining a reliable attorney can make or break your case, which is why you should trust Attorney Bernstein. With decades of experience and a bevy of pleased clients, our attorney offers clients creative, personalized legal counsel. To schedule a case consultation, please contact our office at (727) 312-1112 or online.