Fathers: Beware of Social Media During a Custody Dispute
Not all that long ago it was rare for a father to have custody of his children. Today, however, more and more fathers are fighting for their right to equal or even sole custody (referred to as “conservatorship” in Texas) of their children. If you are a father who anticipates, or is already in the middle of, a custody dispute, Fort Worth fathers’ rights attorney Jon Boyd warns you to beware of social media.
Times Have Changed
At the time of the last Census (2010), the U.S. Census Bureau reported that an estimated 13.7 million parents had custody over children whose other parent lived somewhere else. Of these custodial parents, about one in six (17.8 percent) were fathers. While that may seem like a low number, it is considerably higher that it would have been 50 years ago and has likely increased in the intervening decade. Today, fathers are no longer willing to accept a peripheral role in the lives of their children post-divorce. On the contrary, many fathers are asking to be the manager conservator (primary custodial parent) or for shared conservatorship when they go through a divorce.
Social Media and Your Custody Dispute
Over the last two decades, social media has replaced traditional forms of communication and expression. Whether your platform of choice is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, you almost certainly have at least one social media account. The point of a social media account is to be “social” which typically means you update friends and family on your life. During a contentious divorce, it is only natural to want to turn to social media to vent and/or to seek advice. Although you may want to do so, there are several reasons why you should refrain from doing so.
To begin with, you cannot count on anything you post remaining out of the public domain. Yes, most social media sites have privacy settings that allow you to keep your posts private, in theory; however, you cannot depend on those settings. Each social media platform works differently, meaning you have to understand the privacy nuances of each one. In addition, once you allow your “friends” to view your post (which is the point of posting it) you have potentially disseminated the information to the public because anyone who sees the post can re-post or screenshot the post. Given that you have posted the comment on a social media site it is unlikely to be considered privileged. Therefore, anything you have posted could be used against you in court. Before you post something negative about your ex, the court, or anything about your case, stop and ask yourself if you want your comment to be introduced in court. If the answer is “no,” do not post it.
It isn’t just your posts that could hurt you though. Someone else’s social media posts could also be potentially harmful if they include pictures that cast you in a negative light. For example, a picture of you drinking or using drugs is definitely not something you want introduced into evidence at a custody trial. By the same token, pictures of you with a new “significant other” are not likely to be helpful to your bid for custody of your children.
Finally, even posts that may not seem directly related to your custody dispute could be a problem. Pictures showing you enjoying a lavish vacation while your case is pending may not help. Controversial comments about politics or religion as well as comments on “adult” topics such as sex or drugs could cast your overall character in a negative light.
Before you take to social media during a custody dispute, stop and think about what you are about to post. Assume it will not only become public, but that it will be introduced in court and act accordingly.
Contact a Fort Worth Father’s Rights Attorney
If you foresee a custody dispute in your near future, contact an experienced Fort Worth fathers’ rights attorney at Boyd Family Law to discuss your legal situation to schedule your appointment today.