Social Media Posts May Impact Child Custody and Visitation

Q: Is child shaming on social media considered child abuse?

Phoenix family law and divorce attorneys often warn their clients who are getting divorced to be very careful with what they post on social media and to be vigilant about their privacy settings. Social media posts can impact the terms of your divorce. While some people use it to catch their ex with a new flame or on a fancy vacation when they claim they can’t afford to pay child support or alimony, there’s a new and disturbing trend online.

Some parents have taken to social media to post online videos of extreme disciplinary tactics they are using to punish their children. Tactics that some consider rising to the level of child abuse and that could– and have– affected child custody and visitation arrangements and have even resulted in criminal charges. In Arizona, child custody and visitation are known as a legal decision-making and parenting time.

Some live stream videos have reportedly shown parents destroying their children’s technology devices, shaving their heads, throwing presents in the fire on Christmas, forcing them to eat hot sauce, shooting a laptop with a gun and other extreme humiliating actions under the guise of “tough love”. (Whatever happened to the timeout chair or being sent to your room to “think about what you did” and write an apology note?) Experts warn that these experiences can have devastating short- and long-term effects on the children’s emotional and mental health, especially when publicly shared with potentially millions of viewers.

Some of the factors considered when determining what’s in the child’s best interest as far as awarding or modifying legal decision-making and parenting time is concerned to include but are not limited to:

  • the physical and mental health of the child, parents, and others

  • history of domestic violence or child abuse

  • whether either parent has made a false report of child abuse

  • the child’s past present and future relationship with the parents.

Parents can seek a modification of a prior legal decision-making or parenting time order by petitioning the court, especially if an emergency situation exists that could result in immediate irreparable physical or emotional harm to the children.

If you have any questions regarding legal decision-making or parenting time issues, or any other family law matter, Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

From our office is in Phoenix, we help families in transition throughout Arizona.