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The Dangers of Social Media with Co-Parenting

Social media, while offering numerous benefits, can also pose significant risks, especially in co-parenting situations. One common pitfall is oversharing, where parents may vent frustrations or share details about their co-parenting challenges publicly. This can lead to heightened emotions and conflicts, often exacerbated by the ease with which information can be shared and preserved online.

There should be no debate. While social media has some proven benefits, it also opens the door to many negative scenarios. 

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 overshare the woes of co-parenting, and maybe even overshare 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, it is too common for parents to 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. 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 about their children on social media but the other parent still does.

Privacy Settings and Conflict

While social media platforms allow 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 relationships. Even with strict privacy settings, posts can be shared or captured before they are deleted, leading to lasting effects and potential legal repercussions. One day your children may stumble across the negative comments you made. Co-parents must use social media with caution and consider the potential consequences of their posts. As the saying goes, what you post can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Legal Implications

If a parent harasses, threatens, or badmouths a co-parent on social media, it’s important to understand that these actions can be used as evidence in court during custody hearings. The judge typically looks for the parent who demonstrates reasonable judgment and a willingness to cooperate for the child’s sake. Negative comments about the other parent on social media can indicate hostility and may impact custody arrangements.

Using social media to vent frustrations, rally support, or tarnish the other parent’s reputation may be seen by the court as seeking revenge rather than focusing on co-parenting. In such cases, the parent will need to explain why publicly criticizing the other parent benefits the child. Ultimately, the court’s concern is how your actions affect the child, regardless of your feelings or the other parent’s behavior.

Including Social Media Use in Parenting Plans

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.

Maintaining a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship

To avoid creating a toxic co-parenting relationship, it’s essential to communicate openly with the other parent and respect their expectations regarding social media posts. Even without specific clauses in the Parenting Plan, maintaining a positive and respectful attitude can help prevent conflicts and improve overall co-parenting dynamics.

Social media can greatly benefit co-parenting efforts. The key is to maintain a positive attitude and avoid sharing personal feelings publicly, especially when it concerns your child. Remember this simple truth: It’s not about mom versus dad or dad versus mom; it’s about both parents working together for the well-being of their child. Even in a custody dispute where one parent may emerge as the “winner,” it’s important to recognize that ultimately, it’s the child who suffers the loss.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you believe the other parent is violating the terms of the Parenting Plan or that the current parenting arrangement is not fair, seek the advice of a Family Law attorney

An attorney can review the terms of the plan, discuss possible routes for relief, and help you navigate the legal implications of social media use in your co-parenting relationship.