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Legal consequences of Facebook posts by deadbeat parents

New York officials may want to follow the lead of Milwaukee County, Wis., in tapping into social media for child support enforcement information. When parents who fail to make appropriate child support payments post about their finances, savvy officials may be able to use this posted information to request child support modifications or push for more severe consequences for these delinquent parents.

Failure to make child support payments is an issue that is addressed in court regularly, and there are cases in which parents may be experiencing financial difficulties that affect their ability to pay. However, there are also cases in which parents' finances may be misrepresented. One official explains that social media has become a helpful tool in pinpointing obvious conflicts between what is represented online and in court. For example, one non-paying parent was found to have purchased a music studio. Another parent whose total support provided over the life of a child was $100 displayed a personal photo with significant amounts of cash in hand. Both individuals face charges for their failure to provide support. One man faces felony charges after posting about his income level. His total support on behalf of a child suffering from cancer was $189, an amount that averages out to about 14 cents per day in the life of his 3-year-old.

Non-support issues can be devastating to a custodial parent, especially when expenses mount for medical issues like cancer. The availability of social media information may be helpful in identifying those who are capable of paying but unwilling to do so. With felony charges and serious penalties at stake, a deadbeat parent may be more likely to cooperate.

It may be difficult to access social media information without legal assistance. However, a collaborative effort on the part of a district attorney's staff and a lawyer may prove helpful when a custodial parent is not receiving child support payments.

Source: Opposing Views, "Fathers Face Charges For Avoiding Child Support, Bragging About Money On Facebook ", Sarah Fruchtnicht, July 17, 2014

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