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Can Social Media Affect Child Custody or Spousal Support?

Schwei & Wendt, S.C. Jan. 30, 2019

Almost everyone is on social media in one form or another. The Pew Research Center reports that more than 75 percent of Americans belong to one or more social media networks. In 2019, reports show more than 2.7 billion people around the world will use social media.

According to the American Psychological Association, around 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. Therefore, a large percentage of divorcing spouses are likely active on social media networks. It is important that spouses getting divorced understand the effects social media can play on child custody and spousal support arrangements.

Child Custody Arrangements

While posting pictures and comments on social media is generally harmless, it can play a significant role in a custody proceeding. Pictures can be especially damaging. While it is normally okay to post pictures at a social gathering involving alcohol, divorcing spouses want to be careful that they did not miss an event with the child for that reason. When it comes to child custody, divorcing parents should avoid the following actions:

  • Posting pictures at outings when you had plans with your children.

  • Posting drugs and alcohol in your pictures, or posting about being intoxicated.

  • Posting confidential or negative information about your children.

  • Posting inappropriate pictures of yourself.

Child custody and visitation is awarded based on what a judge believes to be in the “best interest of the child.” If a judge perceives a parent as having an unstable lifestyle or believes a parent would provide an unhealthy environment for the child, a judge might use those as factors in a custody decision.

Spousal Support Arrangements

Many spousal support battles center around one spouse not wanting to pay spousal support. If a spouse is posting on social media about extravagant vacations or expensive purchases, a judge will likely have a difficult time believing that he or she is unable to pay child or spousal support.

Divorce cases can be complicated, especially if children are involved. If a court requests access to your social media information, it is important you do not delete or modify anything. There could be severe penalties if you prevent the courts access to requested information, and it can be beneficial to speak with an experienced family law attorney to represent you in child custody proceedings.