Child Custody and Social Media Influencers
It is estimated that approximately 59% of the world utilizes social media and that we spend on average two and a half hours per day scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok. Individuals who have sought to monetize this trend for their personal benefit have labeled themselves “influencers” and profit from accruing thousands of followers who like, share, and even purchase products they advertise. While a few influencers limit their social media stories and posts to things about themselves, many open their homes to their loyal followers by sharing personal details about their lives while also sharing pictures, videos, and clips of their family – including their children.
For those who enjoy binging HGTV, you may have heard about the custody litigation surrounding Flip or Flop’s star, Christina Hall, and her ex-husband, Ant Anstead. Recently, Anstead filed an application seeking to reduce Hall’s parenting time with their minor son and utilized information obtained through Hall’s social media pages to support his request for a reduction. Ironically, a review of both parties’ social media pages reflects both parents have shared similar videos, pictures, and clips of their smiling son with their loyal followers. While Anstead has accused Hall of exploiting their son through social media, many readers may find similarities in the content shared by Hall and the content they share of their own children on social media platforms. This raises the question:
What right does one parent have to limit or otherwise control the ability of the other parent to post pictures, videos, and other content of the child(ren) on social media?
In the State of New Jersey, a parent is afforded legal custody of a child which allows the parent to be involved in decision-making surrounding the child’s health, education, and general welfare. When parents share joint legal custody, this means they both have the right to be involved in these decisions surrounding the child. It is under the umbrella of joint legal custody that one parent can address the other parent’s use of videos, pictures, and related content of the child on social media. Whether a parent should be limited in their ability to share details of their child’s life on social media is a fact specific analysis and depends upon the nature of the content being shared, who has access to the content, and the good faith basis of the parent seeking limitations. While Hall has chosen to completely remove her son from her social media in response to Anstead’s litigation tactics, others may seek a compromise that allows a parent to share their life with the child to their loyal followers.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.