How Social Networking Can Affect Your Child Custody Case

If you need assistance with child custody or other family law matters, attorney Bethanie Fanti can help. However, if an issue is in dispute, you need to be careful what you say, and where you say it. What you post on Facebook is permanent. While social networking sites may seem like ideal places to vent or air “dirty laundry,” comments you Tweet may come back to haunt you in Family Court.

Why a court cares what is on your Facebook “wall”
The best interests of children in a divorce are the highest priority in California family courts. The law particularly frowns upon one parent disparaging another in front of children because of the emotional damage it is likely to cause. Family law attorney Bethanie Fanti would suggest that you be extremely careful what you post. A parent who writes demeaning things about the other on his “wall” may believe that somehow his children won’t read his posts. This assumes that our technically literate youth won’t gain access to Facebook or Twitter. This is a foolish presumption.

Placing photos of the other parent that are disparaging can lead to trouble as well. You may even be violating a restraining order; family courts often issue these when it seems likely that one parent may besmirch another’s character in public or in view of the children. Indeed, even photos of comments which place you in a bad light can hurt your child custody. A June, 2009 Time Magazine article interviewed family law attorneys who suggest that both sides routinely pore over social networking sites to find anything that can be used against the other.

Should a court be able to use this information?
An argument can be made that using a person’s posts on a social network site against him in court has the potential of violating First Amendment protections of free speech. However, courts have used information gleaned from Facebook, MySpace, and other sites to determine family court matters.

In Wadmal & Amrita (No. 2) [2008] FamCA 106 a father with limited, supervised visitation was brought under fire when he claimed that he only spent time with his daughter at the home of his parents. He was then shown photographs he had posted on his Facebook wall of taking her to the beach. The court found that he breached court orders.

In another custody case a mother with a drinking problem reassured the court that she was clean and sober. Photographs were produced from her own MySpace page of her recently drinking to excess.

Tread Lightly
The matter remains controversial. Whatever is eventually decided regarding admittance of evidence from social networking sites, the fact remains that your child custody may be affected by what you post. Family law attorney Bethanie Fanti can assist you in custody matters, but it will only hurt your case if you use sites to vent your anger or frustration.

If you are divorcing or seeking assistance in a child custody matter, call Family law attorney Bethanie Fanti for a review of your case today.

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