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Social media content could impact child custody proceedings

Many adults have turned to the world of social media to communicate and stay connected with friends. As the use of Facebook, Twitter and similar digital platforms become integrated into daily life, some people might not think too much about the content that they share. However, one man discovered just how impactful a Facebook post written out of frustration can be.

While in the midst of divorce and child custody proceedings, a father of two expressed his concerns and anger with his ongoing split. He made a generic -- yet impassioned -- statement about fathers losing custody of their children. However, he didn't realize that his soon-to-be ex-wife would gain access to this posting, which was eventually used against him in court.

The woman brought a copy of the Facebook post to court and requested that her former spouse be held in contempt of court. Surprisingly, the judge approved the motion, which could have resulted in jail time for the man. Ultimately, the judge gave the man the option between 60 days in jail or posting a prepared apology on his Facebook page for nearly a month.

The man opted for the latter punishment, but stopped sharing the apology after about a week. Eventually, it worked out that the man wasn't thrown in jail and was awarded custody, but it involved a long, complex legal process.

Most importantly, nothing is entirely private online. In fact, the man in this case blocked his wife from accessing his Facebook page, but she still managed to obtain it. Even though a person might feel upset by the divorce process, it's important to remember that public statements can be used in a family law case.

Seeking custody can be a complex, emotional process. Ultimately, arrangements are made to reflect the needs and best interests of the children. As such, in the middle of a disputed claim for custody, the court might use any evidence available to inform a ruling. This is why parents should make efforts to ensure that they can build the strongest case possible.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How A Facebook Post Almost Got This Dad Thrown In Jail," Jan. 24, 2014

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