There should be no debate. While social media has some proven benefits, it also opens the door to many negative scenarios. One common pattern in social media that has a negative impact in family law occurs when co-parenting is involved. While social media allows parents to share their updates of time spent with their children or connect with family to show how quickly their children are growing up, we often see that it is also easy to over share the woes of co-parenting, and maybe even over share things the other parent would prefer to not be shared on the internet. For example, co-parenting is not always a walk in the park so emotions can be heightened. As a result, its too common that parents take to social media to share their woes about how some of the parenting time in an Order is an injustice or how the other parent is not contributing or following the rules or some parents even go to the extreme when they express their regret for having to parent with the other person. Another common trend that causes co-parenting conflict arises when one parent asks (or even merely expects) the other parent to not share certain things of their children on social media but the other parent still does.
While social media platforms allows each person to customize their privacy settings to limit who sees what, or can’t see certain things, it’s a fine line that often creates conflict in co-parenting relationship. Everyone should use with caution as while posts can be filtered and/or “deleted”, they are often easily shared to make their rounds or captured as screenshots even before the person who posted second guesses their decision to share. Some of the conflicts caused by social media while co-parenting can also have legal effects and lasting effects. One day your children may stumble across the negative comments you made. And as the saying goes, what you post can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Many Parenting Plans that lay out parenting schedules and boundaries often contain a clause about not disparaging the other parenting, especially in the presence of the minor child. Some Parenting Plans also specifically address the limits to posting minor children on social media without consent. We get it, once each parent has legal and physical rights to a child, they should both be free to do what they choose to do with their child. That works in a perfect world. However, when it comes to co-parenting, there are boundaries and rules to follow to avoid creating a toxic co-parenting relationship and to avoid being charged with Contempt.
Additionally, many Georgia courts have an Automatic Domestic Relations Standing Order regarding the rules and laws that each party must comply with to avoid being held in contempt while custody and/or child support actions are pending. Just like with Parenting Plans, it is common that each county’s Automatic Domestic Relations Standing Order contains language to govern how the parties conduct themselves when parenting, and prohibits disparaging comments against the other side.
Leave complaints about parenting off of social media and have active conversations with the other parent to understand their expectations about posting. Even if your Parenting Plan does not include a clause limiting disparaging comments or social media conduct, avoid creating a hostile and toxic co-parenting relationship as it will certainly make a difficult situation worse but never shorter. Most importantly if you believe the other parent is violating terms of the Parenting Plan or that the current parenting arrangement is not fair, seek the advice of a Family Law attorney so that they can review the terms, and discuss with you possible routes for relief.