Social Media, Post-Divorce, and Child Custody

Millions of people engage in the use of social media every day. We use it to stay in touch with friends and family across the country. Some use it just to share pictures, while others are more involved and share details of their day-to-day life. It is not unusual for some people to turn to social media as a way to express frustration and anger during difficult periods in their life, particularly family law cases such as divorce or custody disputes. As with any other type of statement, such as text messages, e-mails, or verbal expressions, parents should be aware that their social media statements and history may be admissible in court. This should act as a deterrent to making some of the more embarrassing or detailed disclosures, but it does not always serve this purpose. After a divorce, if one parent continues to make maligning statements on social media about the former spouse, the issue may arise about what can be done about these actions.

Some litigants may think that the easiest solution to address a former spouse who makes too many or embarrassing disclosures about the case could be to get a gag order from the family court. A gag order would prevent one or both parties from talking about the case. However, courts are loathe to do this, as such orders can easily run afoul of a person’s First Amendment right to free speech. Similarly, difficult can be a case for defamation, also known as a suit for libel or slander. Winning a civil suit against a party for such statements requires that the statements made by your former spouse be not only false, but also that you suffered some sort of monetary damages as a result of these lies. This is a difficult bar to meet.

Instead, the better strategy is probably to keep track of your former spouse’s social media posts, and to save copies of the damaging posts. Posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media are often admissible in court. These posts may provide evidence to bolster a parent’s claim that the posting parent is attempting to alienate the children from the other parent. This will be especially powerful if the parties’ children are old enough to also be active on social media. Courts take attempts by either parent at alienation very seriously, including those expressions made electronically.

Social media may provide us with helpful ways to keep in touch with family, but it can also be a source of frustration for parents after a divorce. We have helped many clients handle these types of situations. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment to talk about your former spouse and social media in your case.

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