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Preserving family law fairness in the age of social media

Although Ohio residents still call up their friends to find out what is happening in their lives, many can quickly catch up on the big events happening in the lives of the people they love by signing into their social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a bevy of other internet-based platforms allow individuals to share pictures, information and other forms of data with their connections in a user-focused manner. These social media platforms can, however, complicate family law matters when online friends, shared data and other information become relevant or discoverable at trial.

Recently, a judge granted a mother sole custody of her child based on alleged domestic violence that existed between the mother and her husband, but that ruling was short-lived. An appeal sent the matter to a higher court for reconsideration and now the matter must be reheard. That is because the judge accepted a friend request from the mother through Facebook before offering his final ruling.

The fact that the judge chose to befriend the mother online showed a lack of impartiality in his ability to make a fair ruling, and as such the parents must go back to court to resolve their family law issues. This story is only one example of how social media accounts can impact family law case outcomes.

Social media is a great way to stay connected with people who are far away and with whom individuals do not have close, personal relationship. It can, however, become a complicating factor in cases when comments, evidence and friendships muddy the waters of fairness and create questions of partiality in the civil judicial system.

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