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Courts consider Facebook, other social media posts in divorce disputes

Social media has become a mainstay in American culture. Most Californians have heard of Facebook, and many people use the site as a place to reconnect with friends. Other Facebook users may tend to report day-to-day events--almost using the site as an online diary. When a person is involved in a contested divorce proceeding, comments posted on Facebook are being used more and more in court.

A recent child custody dispute on the East Coast recently made headlines after the family court judge presiding in the divorce cited posts found on the mother's Facebook page. The judge reportedly found that the woman had admitted in social media posts that she had sworn at one of her kids-even finding through the Facebook comments that the woman admitted to having resorted to physical means to control her oldest child in some instances.

The woman apparently was questioned about the Internet content in family court hearings. The judge found that the woman was not remorseful for speaking about her children on the Internet. The court wrote that the woman "thought it was important for her Facebook friends" to know about her parenting. In the end, the judge granted sole custody of the children to the father in the divorce, according to Forbes.

The East Coast story may be an anecdote concerning a single divorce proceeding. But, social media has been raised in many areas of family law. Husbands and wives have found comments online that have led to a breakdown in the marriage, and others have been used in divorce proceedings.

When it comes to custody disputes, a long forgotten comment on the Internet posted after a tough day may later be used in court. Child custody decisions in family court are generally determined under what the courts call "the best interests of the child." The standard can take into account a wide variety of information-ranging from a parent's relationship with the child to the parent's lifestyle to other aspects.

Source: Forbes, "Facebook Wall Of Shame: Don't Post Terrible Things About Your Kid While In A Custody Battle", Kashmir Hill, Feb. 21, 2013

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