Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Social media evidence now admissible in New York custody cases

The Westchester County Supreme Court has ruled that a New York man can present evidence collected from the Facebook profile of his ex-wife in his battle for custody of their 4-year-old child. The father had claimed that the mother had been traveling extensively instead of caring for their child. Asserting that he was the primary caregiver, he asked the court to grant him custody.

Until this new precedent arose from the Westchester court, social media information had not been admissible in custody battles. A lawyer for the father said that the ex-wife had not expected her Facebook postings to be applicable in court. According to court filings, her page showed that she had been vacationing many times over the previous four years with visits to places like Boston and Italy.

The Westchester judge chose to support the father's request because evidence that shows who has been spending time with a child would be relevant in a custody case. The fact that it was available on Facebook did not serve as sufficient grounds to exclude the information. One legal expert predicted that more courts would begin accepting social media evidence.

A family court making a custody determination typically considers the abilities of parents to provide for the physical and emotional needs of their children. The individual needs of the child also play a part in custody decisions. A parent trying to gain full or joint custody might choose to consult with an attorney who has experience in family law matters. Counsel could advise the parent about the legal obligations and how to document evidence. Negotiations with the other parent could also be handled by the attorney.

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