More and more people in Florida and across the nation are using social media to connect with friends and family, and to share details about their lives with others. For some, the information posted on these platforms will come back to haunt them. This is especially true in cases of divorce and child custody, which often brings out the worst in people. A recent court case exemplifies the manner in which one's online life can be dragged into the middle of a legal dispute.
The case involves two parents who are struggling over the care and custody of their 4-year-old son. Both parents claim that they have provided the bulk of their son's care. However, the father claims that he can prove his claim by an examination of the mother's Facebook account.
The mother's profile includes photos and postings that show her travel history. She is seen in cities around the nation, as well as international destinations. According to the father, a review of those postings and the dates of travel will demonstrate that he has been tasked with providing the majority of the child's care over the past four years.
In most child custody cases within the family's state of residence, social media is not accepted as evidence. However, in this case, the judge ruled that the amount of parenting time that each party has experienced can be taken into consideration. Therefore, the Facebook profile will be allowed as evidence, and the mother has been ordered to turn over her login information.
This case is unique due to the fact that Facebook is not normally allowed into child custody cases within the family's state of residence. However, it is also unique in that the information being accessed through social media is not being used to challenge the fitness of one parent in relation to the other. There is no claim being made that the mother is unfit, only that she has not spent the same amount of time with her son as the child's father. This case serves as a warning to parents in Florida and elsewhere that the information shared online, no matter how innocuous, can become a liability.
Source: techtimes.com, "NY Judge Orders Facebook Profile Can Be Used In Custody Battle", James Geddes, Aug. 25, 2015