Include social media rules in your Missouri parenting plan

In the past we have posted about the increasing role social media is playing in divorces. However, outside of things like Facebook being used to try and paint one parent in a negative light or prove infidelity, parents who are going through a divorce are increasingly being encouraged to establish rules regarding how images of the children can be used on social media sites. These rules should be included in the child custody agreement.

When thinking about social media and children, parents should keep in mind that social networking sites, such as Facebook, are very popular in today’s culture and are a great way to share information with friends and family. So while it can be argued to allow some photos of children on those sites, parents need to make sure the pictures are being seen by the right people.

For example, while a father may be OK with his ex-wife posting photos on her Facebook page, would he be OK with those same family photos being used on her online dating profile? These are the types of questions that need to be asked and answered when coming to an agreement. Keep in mind things like privacy settings, what websites are off limits for photos of the children and what the context of the images will be should all be discussed.

Larry Ganong, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, points to the importance of finding a balance when it comes to technology after a divorce. For some parents, especially ones who have a hard time getting along, being able to edit before sending texts and messages may help in terms of communication. However, there still needs to be clear rules to stop the situation from becoming hostile.

In Missouri, parents are required to submit proposed parenting plans when filing paperwork with the courts related to child custody and visitation. Working with an attorney, parents can include their social media plans in this parenting plan.

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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