Social Media Activity Can Become Evidence in an Ohio Court

Social MediaSocial media networking sites—such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and MySpace—are appearing in legal cases, notably in family court, where Facebook postings, e-mail exchanges, and other online communications are being used as evidence of an individual’s instability or as an example of objectionable behavior.

In Ohio, networking conduct (what you post on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites) can be introduced in a child custody case and may hurt the credibility of the parent posting the information.  He or she may be portrayed as a person of unsuitable character which could label that person an irresponsible parent.

Social media sites can expose extramarital affairs, job-seeking data, questionable contacts and evidence of drug or alcohol abuse—all leading the court to inquire if a parent is unfit to have custody.

Even seemingly innocuous activity could become damaging if there are photographs posted of expensive vacations and pictures or mention of other major purchases.  These might indicate one is capable of paying child support or spousal support beyond what he or she has indicated to the court.

Contradicting earlier statements or promises in an online forum can also go against a parent who can be viewed as a person who does not keep his or her word or misrepresents situations.

Many networkers provide a daily report on their activities.  “Playing a round of golf, then chilling by Ted’s pool all day” is an example of a Facebook message that could make it appear one is not seriously looking for employment.

A parent involved in a child custody case should also be careful about posting status updates that say something like, “Single woman with no children looking for a fun time.”  For one thing, the post is a lie because you do have children.  Secondly, it makes the social media user appear as though she may not have the best interests of her child or children in mind.

As most divorcing parents know, the gold standard of any custody decision is what custody arrangements best serve the interests of the child or children.  No matter what the jurisdiction, the court generally does a case-by-case evaluation of the needs of the child and the advantages to the child presented by those seeking custody.

Excessive online usage can also be demonstrated in court and used against a parent in a custody case implying that a parent who spends so much time online could neglect  his child.

X1 Discovery is an online group documenting evidence of how social media plays a significant role in state and federal court cases in the United States.  For the first half of 2012, 320 published cases affected by social media were posted in this group’s summary of cases. The use of social media was cited in 14 cases of various types in Ohio.

As recently as this month (September 2012), Ohio’s 8th Appellate District Court ruled there was no error by the court in admitting text messages the defendant had received as business records.

If you are involved in a child custody action or another type of case where social media may have an impact, you may want to consult with an Ohio attorney who is knowledgeable in these areas.  Social media are changing many things about our lives today.  At Slater & Zurz LLP, you will find someone to help you deal with the conflict that is going on in your life.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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  1. LoBiondo Law Offices | Divorce | Family Law | Newburgh NY - September 10, 2012

    […] lawyerEvander Holyfield’s Divorce Finalized After Two YearsPreparing For a Divorce: The Plan.Social Media Activity Can Become Evidence in an Ohio Court .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 […]

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