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In a child custody battle? Don't let Facebook ruin your chances

Technology has changed the way that New Jersey residents communicate with one another. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as texts and emails, allow individuals to stay in touch with friends and family in a way never before seen in history. Many would say that technology enriches people's lives, but for those in a child custody battle, it could ruin them.

Many New Jersey parents who used to laugh at Facebook posts and pictures together are now attempting to use them against each other in court. Photos of vacations, new cars or other property might seem harmless enough, but  they could end up being presented in court to indicate that a parent has the ability to pay child support. A post about the party a parent attended with a photo of him or her drinking could be used in an attempt to destroy that parent's character and intimate that he or she lacks the appropriate skills or demeanor to effectively parent.

For these reasons, most parents are encouraged to take a vacation from social media during divorce proceedings. Some deactivate their accounts and then reactivate them once the court has made a final decision. Others are able to stay connected, but limit what they post. The same could be said about texts and emails. These forms of communication are not as secure as people might believe.

A parent might need to open a new email account, stop syncing information across several devices and never lose control of their electronic devices. In addition, it would not be a good idea to start deleting texts, emails and social media posts. First, the court could infer that the party is attempting to hide something. Second, most of this information is never truly deleted, and it could come back to haunt the parent doing the deleting.

Individuals should take as many precautions as necessary to keep their personal lives private and off the internet. It might seem like an inconvenience, but when you are fighting for child custody, a temporary withdrawal from social media and other electronic forms of communication is a small price to pay. Furthermore, if anything exists that might become an issue in court, a parent should inform his or her attorney right away so that a strategy to deal with it can be formulated in advance.

Source: Forbes, "How Is Electronic Data Handled In Divorce?", Jeff Landers, Dec. 22, 2016

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