Custody and Social Media Influencers | Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP

It’s estimated that around 59% of the world uses social media and that we spend an average of two and a half hours a day scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok. Individuals who have attempted to monetize this trend for personal gain have dubbed themselves “influencers” and are reaping the benefits of thousands of followers who like, share, and even purchase products they promote. While some influencers limit their social media stories and posts to things about themselves, many open up their homes to their loyal followers by sharing personal details about their lives while also including pictures, videos and clips of their family – including their children – share.

For those who love HGTV, you may have heard about the custody battle involving Flip or Flop star Christina Hall and her ex-husband Ant Anstead. Anstead recently filed a motion to shorten Hall’s maternity leave with their teenage son, using information he received through Hall’s social media pages to support his request for the shortening. Ironically, a review of both parties’ social media pages reveals that both parents have shared similar videos, images and clips of their smiling son with their loyal followers. While Anstead has accused Hall of exploiting her son via social media, many readers may find similarities in the content Hall shared and the content they share about their own children on social media platforms. This begs the question:

What right does a parent have to limit or otherwise control the other parent’s ability to post pictures, videos and other content of the child(ren) on social media?

In the state of New Jersey, a parent is granted legal custody of a child, which allows the parent to participate in decision-making related to the child’s health, education, and general well-being. If the parents share joint custody, it means that they both have the right to be involved in those decisions about the child. Under the umbrella of joint custody, one parent can address the other parent’s use of videos, images and related content of the child on social media. Whether or not a parent should be restricted in their ability to share details about their child’s life on social media is a fact-specific analysis and depends on the nature of the content being shared, access to the content, and the good faith the parent is looking for limits . While Hall has chosen to completely remove her son from her social media in response to Anstead’s trial tactics, others may be looking for a compromise that allows a parent to share their life with the child with their loyal followers.

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