Illinois Appellate Court Rules Teens Twitter Posts Not Relevant in Child Custody Hearings

Earlier this month, the Third District Appellate Court in Illinois ruled that evidence of a teen’s twitter posts “did not support a change” in a decison to refuse a second in camera interview the minor children.  The case, R.M. v.D.Z. (Not reported in N.E.2d, 2013 Il App. 3d)  concerns a challenge to a decision awarding custody of 5th grade twin boys to their mother, R.M.  R.M. has an older daughter, K.M., who, at some point after  the custody award, posted tweets including ““drinking with my mom … now I know why I only drink wine” and “drinking Bailey’s with my mama.” and “I love drinking with my mom LMFAO.”

The father of the boys, D.Z. argued that these tweets gave rise to reconsideration of the child custody issue, or at a minimum, to allowing a second in camera review of the children to get a sense of their comfort with living with their mother.  When considering the relevance of the tweets, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that “it’s become apparent to the court after hearing many of these types of cases now that young people don’t put the normal every day occurrences of life on their Twitter account postings. * * * And trying to rely upon Twitter account postings or MySpace or Facebook as proof of facts, actually things that have happened, just can’t be done—especially with young people.”

One thought on “Illinois Appellate Court Rules Teens Twitter Posts Not Relevant in Child Custody Hearings”

  1. What’s interesting is the juxtaposition of the Illinois appellate court with what just happened in Steubenville.

    I do think it’s particularly dangerous to rely on the hearsay statements in a twitter posting during a custody dispute though – having worked in Matrimonial for only four years, I can tell you that kids often use social media to try to manipulate their parents in these situations – and allowing these statements to serve as the basis for a “best interest” analysis could be very dangerous.

    Consider, for example, a mother who has severely alienated the daughter from her father. The Court then awards custody to the father, as direct result of the alienation. The daughter then, at the mother’s direction, posts things on twitter like “Dad’s crack-whore girlfriend who beats me and is making meth in our basement is about to drive me, drunk to get more drugs”… you see where this is going.

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