Social media is being used for just about everything these days, from keeping up with friends and family and reporting breaking news, to getting insights into the inner workings of school shooters’ mind and vetting job applicants. Well, now we can add determining custody in divorce cases.
Cristi Beaumont is a judge in Washington County, Arkansas. And in an interview with stations KNFA in Fayetteville, she says that inappropriate pictures on social media are used as evidence in a third of the custody cases she sees. “They’ll show them drinking, using illegal substances, making vulgar signs with the kids around them,” Judge Beaumont said in the interview.
The result? If you look like an irresponsible buffoon, you may very well lose custody. But posting pictures that may have seemed funny at the time is only part of the problem. Remember the Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger case, where Alec left a vicious voicemail that Kim released to the public in an attempt to show what a bad parent Baldwin was. (In my opinion, as bad as that voicemail made Baldwin sounds, what Basinger did was even worse, choosing to make public issues that should be personal.) The same thing could happen if you decide to hit Send on a text to your ex that is anything but pleasant.
Part of the problem has to do with interpretation. What you thought was a cute picture of your nude toddler in a bathtub could be used by an angry ex to show that you’re involved in child porn or that you’re leaving your child alone in bathtubs. Texts, tweets, and even Vine and Instagram posts can also be taken out of context and used against you.
Bottom line, be very, very careful when using social media. You may not be in the midst of a bitter divorce now, but it could happen. And if it does, everything you ever posted can be used against you. So think long and hard before posting—and always think of your kids—and how what you do might affect them—first.