Court Curbs Father’s Social Media Activity
The decision a case called Cooper v. Primeau serves as good illustration of the level of detail that a court must address, in disputes between parents and former spouses. In this ruling, the court took specific aim at the father’s habit of posting derogatory comments about the mother on social media such as Facebook.
The factual underpinnings were rather routine, involving normal matters such as custody, access and child support of the separated parents’ two children. After several prior rulings, the court was left with two issues:
- Whether the parents were required to provide each other with their updated phone number; and
- Whether the parents may post photos and information about the children on social media such as Facebook.
Issue around providing a phone number turned out to be easy: The father indicated before the court that he was prepared to agree to providing the phone number as long as the calls from the mother were limited to emergencies regarding the children. The court made an order accordingly.
But the social media aspect was a little more contentious. The mother made several accusations around the father’s use of the internet, including that he had:
- Blocked her on social media;
- Used social media to broadcast and discuss his ongoing dispute with the wife regarding access to the children; and
- Used “crowdfunding” through social media to raise funds to assist him with his legal costs. In doing so, he was very critical of the mother in his plea for funds.
In his defense, the father contended that he wanted to continue to use Facebook as a means for his family to get to know the children.
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Nonetheless, the court concluded that while it may be reasonable to allow him to publish photos and comments about his children generally, these types of posts could justifiably include any mention of the legal dispute between the parents, or any derogatory comments about the mother. The court noted that “associating the children to such a legal battle [between the parents] in a public forum is not in their best interests.”
Ultimately the court made an order about the social media aspect on specific terms: Posting photos on Facebook was okay, but posting comments on his dispute with the mother, making derogatory comments about her, or posting anything about his access issues to the children, was not.
For the full text of the decision, see: