As digital devices and online platforms become increasingly embedded in our daily lives, they interject complex new dynamics into family law. From custody battles over children’s social media accounts to disputes about dividing valuable online assets during divorce, technology introduces countless legal issues.

Social Media Sparking New Custody IssuesDisputes Over Your Data And Kid's Digital Assets

In the past few years, we have seen a dramatic rise in custody cases involving arguments over posts and messages gathered from smartphones and social platforms. Parents cite questionable photos, videos, and comments on social media shared by the other parent online in attempts to paint them as unfit guardians.

The following is a DRAMATIZATION AND IS NOT AN ACTUAL EVENT: For example, a mother struggling for greater visitation rights with her daughter referenced Instagram stories showing the father drunk late at night while he was supposed to be caring for their child. The concerning posts tipped the custody ruling in her favor.

Disputes Over Children’s Online Accounts

With most kids and teenagers now having access to an array of messaging apps, gaming profiles and social platforms, custody battles commonly feature disputes about account ownership and parental oversight. Courts are increasingly tasked with designating digital custody rights regarding children’s online activity and data.

As social media and modern technology become ubiquitous in kids’ and teens’ lives, legal battles over access to their online profiles and communications are increasingly brought to family courts. However, the law has struggled to keep pace with determining proper procedures and rights standards for situations unique to the digital age.

Judges now face complex questions about whether parents should retain access to manage or monitor their children’s online accounts after separation or divorce. Some argue this violates privacy, while others view it as necessary for ensuring safety and proper discipline. Guidelines also remain vague around factors like account ownership based on who created it or paid for the device versus active usage.

In response to these dilemmas, recent legislative proposals aim to clarify the rules around parents’ access to their children’s online accounts, striking a balance between privacy concerns and the need for safety and oversight in the digital age.”

The following is a DRAMATIZATION AND IS NOT AN ACTUAL EVENT: A client contested his ex-wife’s demands to surrender the password for their daughter’s Instagram profile which he set up using his credit card. But arguments arose because their teen daughter was the sole account user who built a substantial following she considered her own “digital business.” This reflects just one example of haziness in emerging legal norms.

Another question posed in numerous custodial disputes involves parents citing questionable content from children’s accounts in attempts to paint the other parent as negligent guardians unaware of inappropriate online behaviors. However, it raises ethical issues if photos, messages, or posts are accessed or shared without the underage users’ consent solely for leverage in custody rulings.

New technologies often create unclear legal situations around access to minors’ online data. Our specialist attorneys stay up-to-date on the latest cases and expert advice about digital custody disputes. This allows us to develop effective strategies to protect our clients’ rights regarding their children’s online accounts and information. Even if the laws are unclear in new technology situations, we can determine the best possible solution for our clients. We understand courts are still seeking to set rules around some emerging tech custody disputes. So we stay closely on top of the latest expert guidelines.

This allows us to argue most persuasively for outcomes our clients want, despite legal gray areas related to children’s online account oversight during evolving times. Our knowledge of precedent helps us argue favorably on our clients’ behalf in emerging disputes over children’s privacy versus parental oversight.

Contact us to evaluate your options for asserting your authority to oversee children’s welfare without wrongly jeopardizing their privacy rights in the process.

Technology Complicating Divorce Proceedings

Beyond child custody disagreements, devices and online platforms also create complex divorce issues. Couples argue over everything from dividing mileage tracking rewards to splits of cryptocurrency wallets and credit card points accrued during the marriage.

The following is a DRAMATIZATION AND IS NOT AN ACTUAL EVENT: A woman who found her husband had installed tracking software on her phone without consent, monitoring her calls, texts, location data and app usage for the past several years. She only discovered the long-running secret surveillance because it was draining her phone’s battery life exceptionally fast. The court  determined that such invasive digital monitoring in a marriage constitutes domestic abuse.

By gathering evidence from her device and service records subpoenaed from her phone carrier, it was successfully argued for the client to receive a greater share of the marital assets during their subsequent divorce proceedings. The judge determined the degree of deception and control exerted through the technology-enabled spying undermined the relationship’s trust and inflicted emotional distress. The client was therefore entitled to a 70/30 split in her favor to help compensate for hardship stemming from her ex-husband’s disturbing violations of her privacy through technology.

FAQsDisputes Over Your Data And Kid's Digital Assets (1)

1. How Technology and Social Media Complicate Divorce and Custody Cases

As digital devices and social media become more intertwined with our daily lives, they introduce complex dynamics into family law. From custody battles over children’s social media accounts to disputes over dividing online assets during divorce, technology creates complications that require a tech-savvy legal approach.

2. Social Media Sparking New Custody Issues

The rise in custody cases involving digital content has been significant. Parents often use posts and messages from the other parent’s social platforms to challenge their fitness as guardians.

3.  My Ex Took Photos from My iCloud. Can I Use Them for Custody?

Using photos from iCloud in custody cases depends on their relevance and how they were obtained. Unauthorized access may raise privacy issues, but if relevant, they could be admissible in court.

4. Who Gets the Instagram Account Used for Business in a Divorce?

The ownership of a business-related Instagram account in divorce cases depends on its creation, usage, and connection to a joint or individual business. Courts have begun recognizing digital assets as divisible marital property with real value that must be allocated along with physical possessions in divorce agreements.

5. Can Text Messages Be Used in Court for Our Divorce Trial?

Text messages are admissible in court if relevant and legally obtained. They can be crucial evidence in divorce proceedings.

Let Our Firm Handle Your Complex Tech-Related Family Law Case

Contact us for a consultation on technology-related family law matters. Don’t let digital evidence work against you.

Retain Tech-Fluent Counsel

Relying on attorneys unequipped for today’s world of smartphones, apps and oversharing means you could be missing key evidence or arguments critical for your family law case outcomes. For reliable guidance and representation, retain our firm’s tech-savvy legal team today.

References:

  1. Smith, A. (2022). Using Social Media as Evidence in Family Court Cases. American Bar Association. Retrieved from www.americanbar.org

We offer consultations, so you have nothing to lose by contacting our office today to discuss your situation with an attorney well-versed in technology-related family law matters. Don’t let online activities and evidence work against you. Call  813-902-3576 now for expert guidance.

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