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Johnine Clark, P.A. Law Blog

Sunday, April 17, 2022

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Custody Case

Today, almost everyone is on one or more social media sites. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few. If you're going through a child custody case, however, what you post on social media can come back to haunt you. If your posts, pictures, status updates, or other information is seen by the opposing party, it's fair game. 

Irresponsible social media use can jeopardize a custody case in following ways:

Pictures

If a picture says a thousand words, then this is especially true in a child custody case. Pictures of you partying, drinking to excess, using drugs, or engaging in countless other behaviors could put you in a precarious situation. At the very least, you will likely need to explain it. A picture could also undermine arguments you are trying to make against the other parent. 

Consider, as an example, a mother who alleges she is fearful for her and her child's life because of the father's abuse. How would it look to the judge to have a picture of you going to the beach or otherwise having a great time? True, the picture does not necessarily tell the whole story, and there may be a good explanation for it. But why put yourself in the situation of having to defend it to begin with?

Status Updates and Tweets

These are especially dangerous. It's easy to fire off an update on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter, especially in the heat of the moment. Saying negative things about the other parent will detract from your contention that you can effectively co-parent. It may also raise a question as to your motives. Obviously, saying anything bad about the judge, the court, or the process itself is only going to help the other parent.

Comments by Friends and Family

The risk of being on social media is compounded by comments your family or friends may make. You may not even mention the custody dispute, but a family member or friend might. It's best to have a conversation with those closest to you and ask that they refrain from making any public comments about the case.

Disclosing Confidential Information

What you tell your attorney is subject to attorney-client and work product privileges. However, you waive those privileges when you voluntarily post otherwise confidential information online.

Friends and followers

Sometimes, the individuals who can hurt you the most are your friends and followers. But not necessarily because of anything they might say. Take the example of a parent who alleges that the other parent has committed adultery, which has hurt the children. The accused parent swears he has done nothing wrong. Then it turns out the person with whom he is allegedly cheating shows up on his friends list. Once again, there may be a valid reason for the online connection. But it just doesn't look good.

The Takeaway

As you can tell, it's easy to get in trouble online. The safest bet? Deactivate your accounts altogether until your child custody case is over. But even when it's done you need to be cautious. Regardless of whether you deactivate or not, you need to assume that anything you put online can be used against you in divorce court – and act accordingly.


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