Our Pennsylvania Child Custody attorneys regularly warn clients of the dangers of social media when it comes to their family law case. Just as social media is playing an expanding role in our everyday lives, evidence gleaned from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is beginning to play an expanding role in the courtroom. In a child custody case, the court is always looking to determine what is in the best interests of the child and will consider a wide range of evidence and testimony regarding same. Everything from vulgar tweets about the other parent to pictures of mom or dad using illegal substances may end up before the judge in a custody trial.
Social media outlets encourage us to publicize our every thought, feeling and experience. Unfortunately, while this may result in a more "connected" society, it is also coming back to bite a lot of users in the butt. The root of the problem may be as simple as making a commitment to "think before you post." Our family law attorneys have watched clients lose custody cases based on social media posts that seemed like good fun at the time, but ended up hurting them in court. It's important to remind ourselves that what we send out into the social media universe is written in stone and cannot be undone. Even if you "delete" a post, it's never truly deleted from the Internet archives. Anyone with the dedication and the right set of skills will be able to find your "deleted" post and use it against you.
Whether it's a compromising picture on Facebook or a hateful tweet, parents need to stop and think of their children before sending their message out to the masses. If you, like many, find it hard to help yourself from indulging in social media, consider using an app to help you help yourself:
- Tweue (Tweet + Queue) is a free app meant to replace your Twitter hub. Tweue can delay your original tweets or retweets up to 8 hours in advance.
- TweetDeck is an app for mobile devices and desktop clients. Like Tweue, TweetDeck has a scheduling feature that allows you to draft an update and schedule it to be posted in the future. The name "TweetDeck" is a bit misleading because the app's functionality is not limited to Twitter, it also works for Facebook, FourSquare and many other social media channels.
- SelfControl is an app for the true social networking addict. Installing the program allows you to block certain websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for a defined amount of time while still maintaining your access to the rest of the Internet.
These and other social media applications can help you better manage the urge to post. Blocking your access to social media websites or building in a delay for your social media posts will provide you with the opportunity to reflect on what you intended to post and perhaps change your mind. Changing the way you approach social media will help you guard against any "surprises" in the event of a custody battle. If you're concerned about how your social media presence may impact a court's decision on custody of your children, you should contact our office today to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable PA Child Custody lawyer.