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Don't forget social media in child custody plan

When parents in Utah get a divorce, child custody issues frequently are a major issue for them to settle or, if necessary, the court to decide. Most parents and their attorneys are aware of what needs to be nailed down, such as how to divide parenting time and visitation. But there can be more subtle questions that no one conceives of when negotiating a settlement but become major sources of conflict in the months or years to come.

One of these potential powder kegs is social media like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Parents may have different ideas of what is appropriate to share about the children online. When one parent posts a story or a photograph, the other parent may worry that info might fall into the wrong hands or that it simply is not anyone else' business. With married couples, this dispute can be settled privately, but after divorce the issue could go unsolved, unless the parents have a cordial relationship.

After the divorce is final, parents generally have the right to post what they want about their kids on the Internet, unless child abuse or neglect is involved. But parents can include guidelines about social media in the settlement. For example, they can have a rule about no photographs of the kids until they turn a certain age. Or they can agree not to argue over social media, where children might stumble across their harsh words. Depending on the state law, the agreement may be part of a parenting plan and thus legally binding.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Who gets custody of the Facebook profile info after a divorce?" Aisha Sultan, Dec. 31, 2012

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