Rule 1 in Custody Disputes: Social Media Edition

by Amy K. Butler on December 5, 2013

Q: When is it appropriate for me to blog, or post about my child’s other parent during a custody dispute?

A: Never.

Q: Why not?

A:  I can think of three reasons:

  1. It’s not nice.
  2. It’s an invasion of the privacy of both your ex-partner and your child.
  3. It can come back to haunt you in Court.  I don’t care how good you think your privacy settings are, somewhere, you’ve got a mutual friend, somewhere, somehow, it will get back to your ex, your ex’s attorney, and ultimately, your Family Court Judge.  The person who, in determining the custody (or, as we say in Vermont, parental rights and responsibilities) of your child, will consider several factors in determining what’s in your child’s best interest.  In every jurisdiction where I’ve practiced, at least one of those factors has looked to which party is most likely to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.  If you’re trashing your ex all over the internet, it’s entirely likely that person is not going to be you.

But really?  Seriously?  Most importantly?  It’s not nice.

Q: What if I’m saying nice things?  Or kind of mean things that I’ve cleverly crafted to make them sound like they’re nice things.

A: I still wouldn’t do it.  First, on that second one, you may not be as clever as you think you are.  But mostly, I’d just err on the side of caution.  Your best bet, from my perspective, is to leave the subject alone completely.

Q: What if I just want to say “My kids are at their Dad’s for the weekend?”

A: I guess that’s okay, but again, I’d err on the side of caution, and go for “Home alone!”

Be nice.

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The Vermont State Police and the Vermont Department of Children and Families have issued a joint press release regarding suspicious activity involving people impersonating Department of Children and Families employees.

If you are approached by someone claiming to be performing a DCF investigation, you have a right to ask for identification.

Be advised:

  • DCF employees must carry identification
  • You are encouraged to ask to see identification if contacted by someone purporting to be from DCF
  • DCF employees cannot take emergency custody of a child without a Court Order.
  • If someone claims to have a court order, ask to see it.
  • If you suspect that someone is impersonating a DCF employee, the State Police are asking that you call 911 immediately.

There have been three reported incidents since October.


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