Can Social Media Be Used Against Me in a Custody Dispute?

Many people are active on social media. Sites like Facebook and Instagram have become great ways for people to keep in touch and share their lives with their loved ones and friends. However, you may be surprised to learn that your social media account can be potentially used against you in a custody dispute.

Generally speaking, anything that is posted to the internet can be used as evidence during family court cases. If you are going through a custody battle or other family court matter, it is important that you are very careful about what you post on social media.

Below we offer some things for you to consider before sharing on social media.

Social Media Is Permanent

People often use social media as a space to vent or discuss the things that are bothering them. This can be a problem when going through a custody dispute, especially if you are posting about your children or your former partner. Once you post something on social media, it is there forever. Even if you delete the post later, there are ways for the post to be retrieved, and you never know who has copied or saved what you posted.

There Is No Privacy on Social Media

Just as you should consider everything you post to be permanent, you should also bear in mind that there is no such thing as true privacy on the internet. While you may set your account to private and strictly control who has access to your account, this does not mean that the things you post will remain confidential.

It is not uncommon for people to screenshot posts and share them with people outside your approved friends list. When going through a difficult custody battle, this is particularly risky as you never know if your child's other parent is in contact with people on your friend's list. It is recommended that you refrain from posting things that you are not comfortable being made public.

Social Media Posts Are Time, Date, & Location Stamped

It can be easy to forget that our social media posts record when and where we post things. Even when posting something after the fact, the original time, date, and location of what you are posting about may be tagged to the image or post. Even if you elect not to post this information yourself, the post's metadata may include this information. With a little digging, this information is easily accessible and can be used against you.

Additionally, it is common for people to tag their locations and the people they are with. You have no control over this, and suddenly, your image and information are made available to their entire network of friends and beyond. For example, your friend may post an of you out with friends on a night when you had your children, and your ex could potentially use this to convince the court that you are not a committed parent.

Social Media Posts Can Be Taken Out of Context

When taken out of context, it is easy for something to be misunderstood or manipulated to fit a specific narrative. For example, simply posting a photo of yourself holding a glass of wine can be manipulated to fit a made-up story that you are an irresponsible parent or an alcoholic. Similarly, your words can be taken out of context, and a post where you publicly complain about your ex can be used to try and prove a parental alienation claim.

When going through a custody battle or other legal dispute, you should always refrain from posting about it on social media.

Should I Leave Social Media?

This is a difficult question, and the answer will vary for everyone. Social media has become so commonplace that it can feel compulsory. Many people only communicate through social media, and social media is frequently used to disseminate important information and schedule events. For example, schools frequently use social media to keep parents and teachers connected and create learning spaces for students. It can be incredibly difficult to remove yourself from social media entirely.

Some people elect to deactivate their accounts while going through custody issues for peace of mind, while others elect to leave social mediate permanently. There are also plenty of people who successfully maintain a social media presence while dealing with legal issues. One thing is for sure: if you decide to stay on social media, you must be careful about what you post.

Questions to ask yourself before posting on social media:

  • Am I okay with this being made public?
  • Am I okay with this being permanently on the internet?
  • Am I saying negative things about my child's other parent?
  • Am I exposing confidential information about my children or family?
  • If this post is taken out of context, will it reflect negatively on me?

You should never post about your custody battle or other legal matters on social media. If you are unsure about anything you are posting, it is best not to post it at all. Additionally, if you are an active social media user, you should make your lawyer aware of your accounts and have a discussion with them about any potential problems. The more you know, the better able you are to protect yourself.

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