Can Social Media be Used in Custody Cases?

Social media has become something that consumes the spare time of millions of people. It’s estimated that the average user spends almost 2.5 hours a day looking at social media and typing out their views on a platform for everyone to read. You may have read stories about how law enforcement uses social media to catch criminals or the fact that companies sue individuals for comments on social media, and you may ask yourself “can social media be used in child custody cases?”, especially if you’re going through a divorce or child custody case.

In short, the answer to the question of “can Facebook posts be used in custody cases?” is “yes.” If you’re badmouthing the other parent on social media, making statements in jest that you don’t want to be around your kids, or posting pictures of your kids with someone that they shouldn’t be around, you may find that these posts and pictures are used against you in divorce court or a child custody case.

Why Social Media Can Be Used as Evidence in Child Custody Cases

Posting anything that’s on your mind to social media is broadcasting your opinion to everyone who can read the post. Your name is attached to that opinion, and you essentially own what you type, say in a video, or do in a photograph when you hit the send or post button. The end result is that the post is directly attributable to you and is evidence of your overall state of mind. That’s why social media can be used in a child custody case — you can’t deny ownership of what you said, especially if it’s a statement that’s hurtful, negative, derogatory, insulting, or otherwise intended to inflict emotional harm. The opposing counsel can take screenshots of your posts and present them as evidence of your character during a hearing for a motion to alter the terms of custody. The judge may not look kindly on your statements and could rule against you.

Another way Facebook posts can be used in custody cases is the timestamp that’s applied to every post. Posting a picture that shows you were somewhere other than where you said you were on a specific date can be harmful to your case. This is especially relevant if there are issues of drug and alcohol use being raised against you and you post pictures of yourself at a party with a beer in your hand, after the custody case has begun proceedings.

Posting Pictures on Social Media Can Also Affect Your Child Custody Case

Pictures are a great way to show your friends and family how you spent your vacation, what you did at a party, or where you went on a day off. Under normal circumstances, these pictures are illustrative but not much more than that. All of that changes during a child custody case when your ex is looking to find any reason to reduce visitation or remove parental rights altogether. If you’re a non-custodial parent posting pictures on social media, you can put your visitation rights at risk when posting pictures of questionable activities, with or without the children.

Pictures of rowdy activity, being seen with a romantic partner that you shouldn’t be seen with due to court order, and engaging in seemingly risky activities with your kids can all be used as evidence against you in court. The intent behind the images can be construed as harmful to the children, used to show that you’re an unfit parent, and further restrict your parental rights and visitation.

How to Prevent Social Media Posts from Being Used Against You in a Custody Case

The easiest and best way to keep social media posts out of court is to not post at all, no matter how badly you want to engage in bad-mouthing the other parent on social media, trash talk participants in the case, or be a non-custodial parent posting pictures on social media. You don’t want to learn the answer to the question of “can you lose custody over Facebook?” the hard way. You have the option to set your profile to a private setting, but people can still gain access to your profile through various methods and take screenshots of your social media activity.

Don’t Post Anything At All

For some, this is easier said than done. The urge to blow off steam for others to read and share is hard for many to resist. However, consider the cost of losing custody of your children over a Facebook post. If you want to avoid a child custody battle over something you said, keep your fingers off the keyboard. Instead, talk to your lawyer or find different outlets for your emotions that don’t involve posting on social media.

Avoid Talking About or Posting About Anything That Refers to Your Children and Ex-Spouse

You may need to post to social media for a number of reasons. They can include work, promoting a business, selling something online, or keeping in contact with people who are otherwise hard to contact. Don’t mention anything about your children, make a comment about the ex-spouse, or share pictures that can be used as evidence.

Don’t Disclose Private or Personal Information

When someone tells you something in secret or confidence, keep that information to yourself and your lawyer if it’s relevant to your custody case. Sharing private information, even if your account is set to private, can be used against you in court as a character flaw.

Never Delete a Post

You may feel the urge to delete a post because your ex found it or you regret saying what you said. Don’t delete that post, because it could go against you in court. Block your ex on social media, lock down your privacy settings, and prepare to explain to the court why you said what you said. You’ll get the opportunity to explain your actions and own the mistake in front of the judge. Usually, judges appreciate honesty and will give you the benefit of the doubt as to why you posted what you did.

The overall purpose of keeping your social media feed clean is to look good in court. Maintaining good social media hygiene and not allowing damaging information to reach your ex goes a long way toward aiding you in your child custody case.

Call Us at Ringer, Lingold & Spencer Today to Speak to a Lawyer about Your Child Custody Issues

At Ringer, Lingold & Spencer, we’re here to help our clients bring their marriages to a close and help everyone move forward with their lives. Call us at (601) 845-5050 to set up a consultation with our family law lawyer to discuss your child custody situation. Our lawyers can help you understand how social media can be used in child custody cases and any other child custody issues you’re experiencing or want to avoid. We provide our clients with the representation they deserve and fight to protect their rights in custody battles.

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