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Facebook Pictures Costing Parents Custody of Their Kids

Washington County Judge Cristi Beaumont says facebook is being used as evidence in one out of every three custody cases.
Social media in the courtroom is becoming the backbone of high profile criminal cases. Just look at cases like the Casey Anthony trial or the George Zimmerman trial.

But social media is not only a primary source of evidence in well-known murder cases.

"In a custody case you're always looking at the best interest of the child," says Judge Cristi Beaumont. "A lot of time facebook is going to have a big say in that."

In Washington County, Judge Cristi Beaumont decides which parent will get custody of their children in domestic cases.

"Clearly if you see that the parent is not being a good parent, is making poor choices, you have to choose which parent is going to be the best custodian for the child," says Beaumont.

Judge Beaumont says inappropriate pictures on social media show up as evidence in custody trials in one out of every three cases.

"They'll show them drinking, using illegal substances, making vulgar signs with the kids around them," says Beaumont.

Attorney Tim Snively advices his clients in custody cases to stay off social media.

"In many instances people have lost their cases based on stupid things they have posted on facebook or any other social media outlets," says Snively. "At the time it seemed entertaining, but in a court of law it doesn't look like they are being a responsible parent."

Snively says attorneys on the opposite side will manipulate social media pictures even if they seemed innocent at the time.

"if someone puts something on facebook, and the party on the other side gets a hold of it and prints it out, they can use that to their advantage and they can be taken out of context and be detremental to their case."

And it's not just pictures causing parents to lose custody of their kids. Texting is another thing that is becoming very popular and is becoming courtroom evidence, according to Snively.

Hateful text messages between spouses sent on the spot and often times in anger are coming back to haunt them in court.

"In the past people would talk on the phone and their is no record of it," says Snively. "But texting you have a written record of it just like email."

Judge Beaumont says whether it's a picture on facebook, or a mean message on the phone, her message for heated custody cases is simple.

"You need to think of your kids first."

Because while a divorce can be tough on the parents It's the children who suffer most.

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