For most of us, using social media tools is a regular part of our daily lives. Sharing personal details on these platforms — everything from significant events to mundane experiences — has become second nature. However, you must carefully evaluate your use of social media if you are involved in a situation as stressful as a child custody dispute.
It can be hard to take care of yourself during this time and as such, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and get swept up in emotions. It may feel good to vent on social media about your problems with co-parenting, your struggles with single parenting, or the custody proceedings. The problem is that you may be posting material which could reflect poorly on your character and suitability as a parent. If any of these statements are submitted as evidence against you, this could seriously damage your case.
Here are some important things to keep in mind about your social media activity during a custody dispute:
You Can’t Assume Your Social Media Posts Are Private
Have you ever posted something online or sent a private message that you would not want revealed publicly in court? Reminder: Social media is inherently social. Even if you have your social media accounts set to private, you cannot assume the information you post will stay a secret. None of your messages or posts are likely to be considered privileged information and could be used against you in a legal proceeding.
Though you might want to lean on your network during this time, it is not unheard of for people you know to leak your private posts. Think about how easy it would be for one of your friends or followers to capture screenshots of your posts and share them with your ex, mutual friends, and others. Because of this, you must carefully consider everything you decide to post online. Assume everything you post is public.
Other People’s Posts Can Hurt Your Case
The potential pitfalls of social media don’t end with your own posts! If a friend posts photos of you or shares information about your activities, these posts could become evidence as well. For instance, if your friend posts pictures of you using alcohol or drugs, with a new romantic interest, or makes reference to any behavior which could cast doubt on your fitness as a parent, this could damage your case — even if you never had a social media account.
Be sure to have honest, direct conversations with the people you spend time with about what information you want shared on social media forums.
Do Not Discuss Your Case Online
Your custody case may weigh heavily on your mind, and you may be tempted to post about the specifics on social media. However, this is never a good idea. Disparaging the judge, court officers, or anyone else involved in the case also may make you seem hostile, which will not win you any favor in court. Remember that if posts are introduced to the case, they will be read and interpreted entirely out of context. These people don’t have a solid picture of you as a person, of what you’re going through, and any other information that can help them understand where you’re coming from.
There are also times in which a judge may specifically request that you not talk about the case online. If you decide to anyway, you will be in violation of a court order — not the position you want to be in. The bottom line here is: You want to appear as a cooperative, stable role model for your children to the court. You would be best served discussing your case only with your lawyer, therapist, and trusted family members you talk with on the phone or in person.
Never Vent on Social Media — About Anything
Even if you resolve never to mention anything related to the case online, you still can hurt your case by talking online about things that upset you. Angry rants about your thoughts on politics, a disagreement with a coworker, or an inconvenient traffic jam all have the potential to make you look out of control. This is particularly true if your case involves allegations that you have anger management issues. Even if you insist you didn’t mean anything serious and were just blowing off steam, those rants will likely sound very different when a judge reads them.
Even Posts Unrelated to Your Case Can Backfire
Your social media posts can construct a vast web of evidence about your lifestyle. If your custody case involves child support and you post photos of expensive vacations or items you have purchased, this can be used as evidence that you have more money than you’re letting on. Similarly, if you are in the middle of divorce proceedings and post about a new romantic partner, this may raise questions about potential infidelity and what environment you’re providing for your children.
Even following or commenting on accounts promoting controversial viewpoints when it comes to things like religion or politics, illegal activities, or adult entertainment could cast doubt on your character. Please be aware that deleting posts which you feel may be used against you could also be considered destruction of evidence. The best method here is to abstain from posting, following, or liking anything questionable at all.
If you’re involved in a custody dispute, you must be extremely careful in the way you approach social media. Father’s Rights is here to guide you through this process and answer any questions you have along the way. Contact us today and visit our blog for more advice on how to navigate the world of single fatherhood.