Your Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You in Custody Decisions
As reported in the tabloids, Madonna is apparently involved in a nasty child custody dispute with her ex-husband, director Guy Ritchie. The Material Girl is involving the world in her dispute, posting details about it social media and seeking the attention of her estranged son as well as support from fans.
Ill-advised social media posts can also have an impact on custody decisions. If you think your privacy settings will protect you from having your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter comments used against you, a 2015 New York court decision should make you think twice before you click “post.”
In the Westchester County custody battle A.D. v. C.A., the father who was seeking sole custody wanted to use his ex-wife’s Facebook posts to show that she had been neglecting and not spending time with their child. The mother posted frequent pictures of her traveling around the world without the child.
While some of the mother’s Facebook posts were public, much of her Facebook activity was shielded from view by her privacy settings. The father asked the judge to force the mom to turn over the printouts of all pictures, posts and information posted on her Facebook pages over the past 4 years.
In the first reported decision of its kind in New York, the judge did exactly that.
In ordering her to turn over her Facebook posts for an in camera (private) review, the judge in A.D. v. C.A. noted previous decisions which held that:
“A person’s use of privacy settings on social media, such as Facebook, restricting the general public’s access to private postings does not, in and of itself, shield the information from disclosure if portions of the material are material and relevant to the issues of the action.”
This case is yet another reminder that parents before, during, and after their divorce put their rights at risk when they use social media. Before you share your thoughts or photos with the world – or even just your “friends” – be mindful of the impact it may have on custody and other vital decisions.
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