Although it should go without saying in this day in age, anything you post on the internet may come back to haunt you in the future. This is especially true when it comes to litigating a child custody or divorce case. As a family law attorney, my colleagues and I routinely look at social media sites (usually after prompting from a client) and find a shocking amount of inappropriate postings.
First, as a general rule of thumb, you should not be posting derogatory things about others on the internet. It’s just common sense. However, if you are currently involved in litigation where the opposing side could stand to gain from your making inappropriate or derogatory comments about others, it is especially damaging. In custody litigation, Judges are permitted to consider such postings when making a decision about what type of custody schedule is in the best interest of the child. If, for example, one parent is posting disparaging comments about the other on Facebook or Twitter, the Judge can use that fact as grounds for awarding less custodial time to the offending parent.
A Judge is required by Pennsylvania law to evaluate “the level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another” and “the attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent.” Therefore, one parent’s posting disparaging remarks could certainly be seen by the Court as evidence of unwillingness to work with the other parent. Additionally, if a parent is posting messages that the child is able to see, it could be viewed as an attempt to turn the child against the other parent.
It is easy to get drawn into an online battle of words as passively typing a message from miles away is much easier than confronting another person in person. However, the consequences are perhaps more serious as there is a written record of the conversation that nearly anyone can print and point to in a courtroom. If you have any questions about how social media may impact your custody case, contact the offices of Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates.