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Facebook profile at play in child custody case

As New Jersey parents face off over child custody matters, they may want to consider the impact their social media accounts could have on official decisions. Although a profile may be private, a New York judge has required that the login credentials for a woman's account be provided in connection with the custody case involving her 4-year-old son. The father in the case has alleged that he is the primary caregiver for the child.

A lack of precedent for the use of social media in deciding child custody cases may have caused the mother in this situation to believe that her private Facebook postings would not be a concern. However, the father indicated that the account demonstrates that the mother has been traveling extensively in both domestic and foreign locations. He indicated that she has not spent as much time with the child as she states. According to the judge, the time spent by a parent with a child is relevant information that could affect the outcome of the case.

While reliability is an important consideration with social media data, online posts can provide significant data to those dealing with issues such as divorce, child custody and child support. Although social media has not previously been used to decide custody terms, this case could open the door for future use of Facebook and other websites by parents and their lawyers. This may cause those considering divorce to proceed with caution when considering posting to such accounts.

An individual who is faced with a child custody dispute might seek legal guidance related to proving the unfitness of the other parent. Issues such as social media might play a role, but additional documentation might be important. A lawyer may assist with obtaining statements from friends, family therapists, employers or others who might substantiate concerns.

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