Parent's Custody Rights Impacted by Social Media Activities

Parents often find that agreeing on or determining child custody is the most stressful part of a divorce. Although they have their own opinions about what the best scenario would be, they must understand that the agreement is meant to meet the best interests of their child and that they should work with their former spouse to make the arrangement work as well as possible.

Social media sites are beginning to become sources of evidence in child custody cases. Since judges are using any information available to them to determine what is in a child's best interests, pictures or posts that indicate a lack of responsibility or poor choices can have a negative impact on a parent's likelihood of being granted custody. One judge estimates that pictures from social media websites are used in one of every three cases as evidence of a person's inability to be a good parent. Additionally, mean-spirited or vulgar texts from one parent to another can also be used against the parent sending the message.

The arrangement for the custody of children pursuant to a divorce can be agreed to by the parents or ordered by the court. Many different arrangements can be agreed to, including joint custody or having the child live primarily with one parent with the other parent having visitation rights. In coming to the best scenario, courts attempt to determine what is in the best interests of the child. A court will invoke multiple factors in making this determination including the health of the parents, the ability to provide a stable home environment, abuse by a parent or the use of drugs or alcohol by a parent.

The child custody arrangement devised is based on the unique characteristics of each family. Parents should be aware of the factors taken into account in coming to such a determination and their responsibilities in each type of arrangement. A family law attorney can assist a parent going through a divorce to help them achieve a child custody agreement that is positive for all parties involved.

Source: Ozarks First, "Facebook Pictures Costing Parents Custody of Their Kids," Nov. 15, 2013

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