Courts Increasingly Allowing Use of Social Media In Child Custody Cases
Recently there have been numerous child custody battles whereby the judge has decided to allow one party to use pages from the other party’s Facebook page as evidence—even information that was privately (not publicly) posted.
In one case, the information was used to argue that the child’s mother was frequently out of state while the father was raising their young son. In a precedent-setting decision, the County Supreme Court Justice ruled in favor of the father, finding that the information (though argued as “private”) might be relevant and material to its determination of custody. The judge ordered the mother to provide her login info to the court.
No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
Other courts have also allowed social media to be used on some occasions, indicating that state judges are becoming increasingly comfortable treating social media like any other evidence–as long as it is reliable. Specifically, some have noted that there really is no reasonable expectation of privacy on social media.
Other forms of social media are also becoming increasingly popular for use in divorce and child custody cases, such as text messages, apps, email, and Twitter.
This makes it crucial that you identify what could potentially be damaging information that’s out there in the open in any child custody case with your attorney from the outset. It also makes it crucial that your attorney is tech-savvy in knowing how to both gather and protect you from this evidence if it is relevant to your child custody case. This can even include using experts to locate and retrieve deleted data off of a computer or cell phone that can then be used in court.
Social Media Used Both Ways
Unfortunately, once that information has been posted publicly on social media, your attorney also cannot advise you to change or destroy it. Thus, while social media allows us to learn more about each other’s lives, it can also be used in the field of family law to make an argument against you.
Watch Out For…
It can be very beneficial to completely take a break from social media if you are going through a divorce or custody battle. At the very minimum, you must be careful about posting:
- Your thoughts related to the custody battle and/or case;
- Anything threatening;
- Anything related to marital assets (example: evidence that you have been taking extravagant vacations);
- Any profile information re being childless;
- Information about new relationships;
- Provocative pictures; and
- Anything that could be interpreted as having a “party” lifestyle, amongst other risky topics.
Contact Us for Assistance with Child Custody
Whether you are seeking to establish custody or time-sharing with your child, or need assistance with a parenting plan or divorce case, we can help you through the process. Please contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., to schedule a consultation. We represent both mothers and fathers in child custody issues in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and throughout Broward County.