Child Custody and Social Media

The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently published a story about a newly divorced woman who discovered her ex-husband had posted photos of their children on his dating website profile. The woman was furious and confronted her ex over what she considered the inappropriateness of the posting. How did her ex respond to her objections? He blocked her from being able to view his profile.

The popularity explosion of social networking sites, dating sites and other online venues raises the question of “who gets custody of a child’s online footprint” after the divorce. The mother who was upset about her children’s photo on the dating site told the newspaper that she wished she had realized the potential of such a situation during the divorce. “It may have been helpful to have established some ground rules about their children’s digital exposure as part of the custody agreement,” she said.

But the issue can turn an already acrimonious situation even more so. One parent may insist on absolutely no postings of photos or information on social networking sites, while the other parent may feel it’s the best way to share with family members who live a distance away.

Larry Ganong, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia who has done research on technology and divorce, suggested divorcing couples should include the use of social media in a parenting plan (a document not legally required in Illinois). “One of the things that can be hard for divorcing parents to grasp is that you no longer have any control over the other parent,” he said.

Custody and divorce issues can be complicated, fraught with so many more issues than parents may realize. If you are going through a divorce, consult an experienced Illinois divorce attorney to help navigate through this process.

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