In today’s society, a lot of people are eager to post and share things on the Internet. In some cases the posts are directly related to a co-parent. The posting or sharing creates an instant feeling of gratification and vindication especially when friends or family members respond siding with you or demonizing the co-parent. This is a slippery slope and needs to be avoided at all costs.
As a general rule, do not post anything about co-parent. That means don’t mention the co-parent by name, even call them “Mom” or “Dad” on social media, or post derogatory photos or quotes. Social media is becoming a bigger problem in custody disputes as time goes on because access to social media platforms are becoming more mainstream and easier to access. More and more, attorneys are being faced with the need to present to the Court information about a co-parents social media usage.
I know you’re thinking, “I keep my profile private,” but that is just not enough. In a lot of situations, private profiles can be viewed by having a friend or family member check the profile, creating fake profiles and friending someone, or even accessing a profile by clicking through someone else’s profile. It is happening everyday and it can have a negative impact on custody. Not only is the co-parent able to get the information, but in some instances the child is a parent’s friend on social media which means the child can see what is being posted about the co-parent.
Let’s use an example: a parent does not pay their child support obligation. Rather than addressing it directly with the co-parent, a post is make on social media. The post does not specifically list the name of the co-parent, but the person only has one child and it’s easy to determine who the post is referencing. The post has colorful language and is derogatory. The child is a parent’s friend on social media and sees the post, then brings it up to the parent who hasn’t paid child support. A simple post on social media out of frustration has placed the child in the middle of a parental dispute which negatively impacts the child emotionally.
Here is a real life example that happened recently in one of my cases: a parent was bashing the other parent on social media. In the post, the parent tagged the minor child which means that the child was specifically put on notice through the social media feed of the conflict between the parents. This is simply inappropriate and should never had happened!
A trend in Court is printing out these social media posts and presenting them to the Court. A savvy attorney will use the social media posts to paint a picture to the Court - Imagine if the parent will post this on the internet, what must the parent being saying directly to the child? The Court is taking note of these types of posts and it can impact custody. It specifically goes to the best interest factors under Nevada Revised Statutes 125C.0035 - conflict between the parents and, fostering and encouraging the relationship between the child and the co-parent.
Moreover, if the Court has issued an Order which prohibits negative interaction and communication between parents, the parent who placed the social media post may find themselves the subject of a request to be held in contempt of Court pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes 22.010. If the Court holds the parent in contempt, it is punishable by up to 25 days in jail, a $500.00 sanction and/or attorney fees and costs. Just to be clear, each post is a possible act of contempt and the punishment is per violation.
So, as a general rule the use of social media needs to be balanced against parenting. You don’t want a judge looking at your social media posts and have quite a different view of you but if you say things that may be deemed negative, you must face the consequences as addressed by the Court.