Child custody cases can be very frustrating for parents going through a difficult separation. Anger and emotions over concerns of your child's well-being can cause you do to and say things you normally wouldn't do. Many people take to social media to vent their frustrations. It is important to be aware that these social media posts can be taken out of context and be used as evidence against you in a child custody case.
In a child custody dispute, the safety and best interests of the child is the primary focus for the courts. The courts will look at a number of factors in deciding child custody cases. This includes the home environment, parent's ability to care for the child, and potential for harm or abuse. When a parent argues against the fitness of the other parent to care for the child, they may be able to point to social media posts that show the other parent in a negative light.
Social media apps and websites, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, are part of the everyday life for many people. People post pictures and messages for festive events and everyday happenings. Unfortunately, these posts and pictures don't always show the whole story. In most cases, social media posts and messages can be used as evidence in court. Even supposedly anonymous or private messages can be discoverable in court.
For example, one parent may claim the other parent is an alcoholic and strangers do drugs in the house. As evidence, the parent points to a number of Facebook posts where the parent is doing shots at a bar, in the background at a house party where people are smoking pot, or looking disheveled on a wedding party dance floor. In reality, the parent may have had some drinks to celebrate their birthday, was the designated driver at the party, or danced a little too much. Unfortunately, the pictures can paint a much more negative image.
Anger at the other parent could also come back to haunt you. After a separation, spouses may be feeling betrayed or angry over the deception of another relationship. When the couple separates, the only way communicate may be through social media posts and messages. Even when speaking out anger, a message could be taken as a threat, even if no harm was actually meant. During contested child custody cases, threatening or disparaging comments about the other parent are not taken well by the courts.
During a child custody case, it is important to demonstrate that you can provide a stable environment for your child. Before posting pictures, videos, or messages, make sure you think about who can see those postings and how it may look, even if taken out of context. Even if you think no one will see it, those social media posts could come back to bite you.
In a recent case in New York, a court found that private Facebook messages were subject to discovery if they were relevant, despite Facebook's so-called “privacy” settings. Many people think that by using temporary picture-saving apps like Snapchat will erase the digital paper trail. However, the recipient of the picture can still screenshot the image, and Snapchat may have to turn over metadata about the user's account.
If you have questions about how social media posts might impact your child custody case, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. JFL is committed to providing the passionate representation you need. We understand the importance of protecting you and your children. Visit our dedicated child custody page and contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.