Should you use Facebook to publicly shame your child in a child custody dispute? Seems like an obvious question, but one a Louisiana appellate court recently answered.
According to the opinion of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, a mother complained when a trial judge failed to stop the father and his new wife from posting embarrassing photos about the minor child on social media.
The Mother sought the injunction based on an incident wherein Jason Tinsley, as a means of punishment, forced the minor child to post a picture of herself on her Instagram account holding a sign that said:
“I WILL BE A LEADER, NOT A LIAR!!”
In addition, Jason Tinsley and his wife posted the same photo on their Instagram and Facebook pages, with Jason Tinsley making this photo his profile picture on his Facebook page.
The mother contended that this form of discipline was inappropriate, humiliating, and demeaning, and they should be prohibited from posting such pictures on social media accounts.
The trial court denied her request for the injunction. The appeals court affirmed the trial judge’s decision. The court found that there was no irreparable injury, loss, or damage that could result to Nicole Tinsley or the minor child.
I’ve written about child custody issues before. In Florida, all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties is made in accordance with the best interests of the child.
While the Louisiana appellate court affirmed, it did find that the father’s use of social media – particularly his forced takeover of and publishing of content on a minor child’s social media account – was clearly improper and inappropriate.
Jason Tinsley staged an intentionally embarrassing picture of the minor child, he then posted the embarrassing picture of the minor child on his social media accounts, and he forced the minor child to post (or publish) the embarrassing picture of herself on her own social media account, all of which was for the sole purpose of punishing the child by notifying the child’s family and friends (and Jason Tinsley’s family and friends) of the child’s transgression – an apparent lie about a boy being at a public park while the child was at the same park with a friend.
The court held:
It is hard to imagine a more improper or inappropriate use of social media by a parent than to use it punitively to publicly humiliate a minor child by requiring a child to publish a photograph of herself wearing the modem day equivalent of a scarlet letter to thereby notify the public of her wrong.
A discussion and link to the decision is available here.