Family lawyers are concerned with our clients’ online activities. That’s because it is not only your fans looking at your social media and other accounts. If your Ex discovers you are selling sexually explicit material of yourself on OnlyFans it could cost you child custody as one woman in Philadelphia found out.
City of Brotherly Love?
The Father and Mother were married for less than two years and had separated before their Child was born. Since 2014 the couple shared legal custody. The Mother had a majority of the time, and Father had alternated two or four nights per week.
In 2020, Mother filed a petition to modify custody, alleging their Child was involved in two car crashes while being driven by Father’s new wife.
At the hearing, the Father defended by complaining to the court the Mother was posting sexually explicit photographs of herself on her OnlyFans website. The Father also made a ChildLine report about the Mother’s behavior.
The trial court immediately terminated the Mother’s contact with Child and ordered a forensic interview with Child. The court held that if the forensic interview revealed the Child was not aware of Mother’s OnlyFans activity, she would be granted supervised telephone calls – but no in-person contact pending a future court order!
However, if Child was aware of the Mother’s online activities, then Mother would be denied all contact with Child. The order also required the Mother to delete her OnlyFans account and submit to a psychological evaluation.
The Mother filed a petition for emergency hearing after Children and Youth Services showed no sign of child abuse or that Child was aware of the Mother’s OnlyFans activity. The Mother’s petition was denied, but she was given back partial physical custody of Child every other weekend from Friday to Sunday evening, with Father retaining sole legal custody.
In 2020, Mother asked to modify the order asking the court for both shared legal and physical custody. In 2023, the family court awarded shared legal and physical custody of Child. At the hearing, the judge found there was no evidence that OnlyFans activity caused Child any harm, and ruled that the court was not permitted to “judge a parent’s private adult behavior outside the presence of the child”.
The Father appealed.
Florida Child Custody and OnlyFans
I’ve written about child custody issues before. In Florida, “custody” is a concept called parental responsibility, which can be either shared between parents, or one parent can be given sole responsibility.
In child custody cases generally, shared parental responsibility is a relationship ordered by a court in which both parents retain their full parental rights and responsibilities. Under shared parental responsibility, parents are required to confer with each other and jointly make major decisions affecting the welfare of their child.
In Florida, shared parental responsibility is the preferred relationship between parents when a marriage or a relationship ends. This year, Florida enacted a law making a rebuttable presumption that equal time-sharing of a child is in the best interests. To rebut this presumption, a party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that equal time-sharing is not in the best interests of the child.
Determining the best interests of a child is not entirely subjective. Instead, the decision is based on an evaluation of certain factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the child’s family. Some of those factors concern the moral fitness, and the mental and physical health of the parents.
Not Only Fans
On appeal, the Father argued the family judge did not appropriately consider Mother’s “poor life choices” when granting Mother shared legal and physical custody of Child based upon her prior OnlyFans site.
The appellate court noted the OnlyFans account was deleted in 2020, she has never posted adult content on any other site, her interactions with her patrons on the site were entirely virtual and solely through her pseudonymous username, and she never created content in her home when the Child was present.
Additionally, the child investigation revealed that Father’s child abuse report was “unfounded.” In reviewing the best interests of the child factors in Pennsylvania, the trial court found that “none of the custody factors include the morality of a parent’s judgment or values.”
The trial court then determined that Mother’s OnlyFans activities were irrelevant to the court’s custody analysis because Father failed to establish the Mother’s activities on OnlyFans caused Child any harm. The record showed the Child was not aware of Mother’s activities. The Father presented no evidence to prove otherwise, and did not present evidence showing Mother’s OnlyFans activities raised any safety concerns because the Mother participated anonymously with her location shielded.
The appellate court agreed that a parent’s morality is not an enumerated custody factor in Pennsylvania, and the Court correctly rejected consideration of a parent’s morality or sexual lifestyle when determining custody where there was no finding of an adverse impact on the child.
The opinion is here.