January 11, 2018 -
If you are involved in custody litigation, or if you are considering custody litigation, you should know that the Pennsylvania child custody statute lists 16 factors the Court must consider when awarding custody. The factors will be addressed, to the extent they apply to your personal circumstances, during the course of a custody hearing, with factors affecting child safety given “weighted consideration” by the court. In most cases, the parties present evidence to the court in the form of testimony—from the parties, relatives, close personal relationships, etc.—and documentary evidence, which, in today’s litigations, frequently involves Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media posts.
How are social media posts relevant, you ask, when the court is deciding the best interests of your child? Many times the best evidence of a parent’s judgment, lifestyle choices, and ability to co-parent come in the form of photographs, comments, or links shared by that parent on various social medial websites. And, when all other factors are considered equal, a quasi-disparaging remark about the other parent on Twitter or a photo of a compromising situation on Facebook may be enough to impact the custody schedule awarded by the court. Yes, social media posts alluding to excessive alcohol use, illicit drugs, financial or other forms of instability, and disparaging comments about the other parent or his/her family may impact the custodial time you are awarded by the court. Be cognizant of your online presence and how it may be viewed by a court considering the best interests of your child.
If you are contemplating a custody action, or if you are already involved in an action, contact our office and our experienced Family Law attorneys to discuss your custody action and how to best prepare and present your case.
~Jeffrey C. Murse, Esquire
 Factors to consider when awarding custody, at Title 23 Pa.C.S.§5328