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Social media may increasingly be evidence in child custody cases

Thanks to social media, there is little that we cannot find out about other people’s lives. Many of our readers no doubt make sure to update their Facebook, Instagram and other accounts daily -- or they know someone who does so.

Heavy involvement in social media may be an ego trip, but it also can reveal more than the person intended to the public. As the law evolves, this could have implications for divorce proceedings, child custody disputes and so on.

Minnesota law admits evidence gleaned from social media in some situations, but it is currently in the minority. Recently, however, a judge in New York ruled that a man could use content from his former wife’s Facebook page against her in their child custody case, perhaps setting a precedent in that state, Tech Times reports.

The father in that case was trying to show that his ex-wife did not spend as much time caring for their son as she claimed, and that he actually was the one raising the boy most of the time. To support his argument, he wanted to use postings on his ex-wife’s page about vacations she took in Italy and elsewhere when she was supposedly caring for their son.

The mother claimed that her Facebook page was private and that her ex-husband accessed it without permission. However, the judge ruled that the Facebook page could be allowed in court. He found that the page contained potentially relevant evidence “and material to [the court’s] ultimate determination of custody.” He ordered the ex-wife to provide her profile name and password by Sept. 14.

The use of social media pictures, videos and posts as evidence in court brings up a potential tension between the relevance of that evidence versus the poster’s expectation of privacy, if any. It will be interesting to see how this issue evolves in the next few years.

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