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What recourse can family court offer for online harassment?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Child Custody

Recently, there has been much discussion about the online behavior of certain celebrities going through the divorce process, including concerns about what amounts to harassment and how the behavior might impact things like child custody.  It is evident social media has added a new and sometimes concerning element to the breakup of couples, and Maryland couples entering the divorce arena should be conscious of how their social media posts and online messages could reflect on them in family court.  

Those who are the target of online harassment from an ex may have some options, both in court and elsewhere, to try and combat the concerning behavior. These can include: 

  • Reporting the harassment to the social media company 
  • Asking for an order of protection 
  • Petitioning the judge to disregard attempts from the other part to prolong the divorce process 

The last point is exactly what was recently done in a celebrity divorce where social media posts were involved. The party who was targeted by the alleged harassment was able to ask the judge to speed up the divorce process, using the posts as evidence that this was necessary and that any legal maneuvers to prolong the process would be in bad faith. This demonstrates the difficult situation people can land in if they choose to engage in defamatory or harassing digital communication before, during or after a separation and/or divorce.  

It is important to remember that digital messages are very easy to screenshot and produce as evidence. The resulting consequences can be quite severe, including the loss of child custody, a protective order, or even in some cases criminal charges. Following the advice of a Maryland family lawyer on how to communicate and avoiding negative social media posts on one’s ex could prove invaluable for someone going through a divorce. 

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