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From property division to spousal support, filing for a divorce can involve many stressors. For parents, child custody can be an especially contentious area of marriage dissolution in California, leading to complex disputes about visitation rights, relocation, and other factors.

In today’s digital era, child custody cases can be all the more overwhelming due to the presence of social media, opening the door to big disputes, false allegations, and other complex issues. How often do family courts consider social media when determining child custody orders? How can co-parents prepare for child custody decisions while avoiding the potential pitfalls of social media?

In this blog, we’ll explore the potential impacts of social media on child custody decisions and review 5 common pitfalls to avoid in family court.

How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

While the primary factor in child custody decisions is always the best interests of the child, family courts can take various factors into account when determining child custody arrangements in California. In some cases, social media accounts can also play an important role in determining custodial and visitation rights.

Digital information from online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can offer family courts additional insight into a co-parent’s potential fitness in child custody disputes. Even if your accounts lack concrete evidence of unfit parenting, this doesn’t necessarily mean that family courts and other involved parties won’t jump to conclusions or question what they find online.

Social Media & Child Custody: 5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Social media accounts can be particularly risky during a contentious divorce or parting of ways, as the opposing counsel may see fit to weaponize your social media as a means to impose blame—especially if your spouse is vindictive or spiteful. To achieve a favorable resolution in a child custody case, it’s crucial to be safe and smart about your social media accounts.

Below are 5 common pitfalls for parents to avoid during child custody disputes:

1. Set your social accounts to private.

The internet is forever, meaning that old posts and photos can resurface at any moment and potentially harm your child custody case. Ensuring your social media accounts are set to private is usually a wise step to take while preparing for a child custody case. However, keep in mind that this isn’t a foolproof strategy.

The best way to obtain a favorable outcome in a child custody case is to be mindful of what you post. Put simply, if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s best to refrain from posting at all. In the meantime, consider talking with friends and family to ensure they don’t post any information you intend to keep private.

2. Clean up your social accounts.

Although there’s never a guarantee that old content won’t resurface, cleaning up your social media accounts is far from a fruitless endeavor. Combing through your online accounts to delete problematic photos and text can offer an added buffer of protection while preparing for a child custody case, allowing you to present yourself in the best possible light in family court. If child support is an issue and you are claiming no money, probably not a good idea to post about your trip to Hawaii and your large alcohol consumption.

3. Be mindful of your child’s privacy.

A crucial element of parental fitness is your ability to protect your child’s safety, especially when it comes to online privacy. The court will consider your child’s best interests above all, and you should do the same by exercising restraint and mindfulness in your online activity. Reviewing your social accounts to remove any content that may potentially harm your child’s well-being is imperative to achieve a favorable outcome in a child custody case.

4. Don’t overshare personal details.

Going through a divorce or child custody dispute is often filled with emotional and financial hardships, resulting in immense stress for co-parents. While it’s important and healthy to lean on a solid support system, such as friends, family, and mental health counseling, publicizing this support online can be a big risk. While it can be tempting to vent or express emotions about an ongoing divorce or custody dispute, it’s best to refrain from oversharing personal details online to avoid unintended consequences, including the potential loss of custodial rights. It is best not to discuss your child custody case online.

5. Limit your online friends and followers.

While building an online following can be a fun and challenging way to build your brand or raise awareness about a cause that matters to you, the cons typically outweigh the pros when it comes to having a wide audience during a child custody case. Taking the time to review your online followers can prevent you from broadcasting your life to the wrong people, such as mutual friends who may side with your co-parent.

Even if you lack direct connections with problematic parties, keep in mind that the wrong people might still be able to view your posts if a mutual connection likes, shares, or comments on your content (such as the “friends of friends” visibility setting on Facebook).

Compassionate Counsel for La Mesa Families

At The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider, our dedicated family law attorney has over 30 years of experience representing couples and families in La Mesa and beyond. Whether you’re seeking an annulment or preparing for a contested divorce, our firm is here to guide your steps with wisdom and care. Our highly skilled advocate has an in-depth understanding of family law in California to provide the sound counsel you deserve, empowering you to turn the page to a brighter life chapter.

Preparing for family court? You don’t have to fight alone. Call (619) 304-8499 to schedule a free consultation.