Case in point: a Pennsylvania man embroiled in a bitter child-custody dispute started a blog about his experiences, called The Psycho Ex-Wife. I think you get the gist of it.
A judge ordered the site shut down, and now he’s appealing this apparent violation of his First Amendment rights. Pennsylvania Law Monitor agrees that the order to take down the site might be unconstitutional, but its contents can certainly be taken into consideration by the family court judge:
Whether or not the judge’s order violates father’s right to free speech is a separate issue from whether the judge can use the website information and blogs as evidence in the custody case.
Pennsylvania has recently detailed the factors a judge must consider in awarding custody. The relevant factors in this case include:
- The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate together.
- The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent
- Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
- The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household.
Additionally, research is conclusive across the board and child custody experts are unanimous: the more animosity displayed between parents, the greater the negative impact on the children.
While the father can proudly, and in all likelihood legally, stand up and champion his First Amendment rights – he does it with a price. While he may win in his appeal, he will lose in custody and, most importantly, in his relationship with his children.
When a family court judge decides who should have primary care of a child, she will consider each party’s willingness to cooperate with the other parent, avoid denigrating him or her in the presence of the child, and respect the court’s decision. If one of the parents is savaging the other party and the court online, that makes the judge’s decision a little easier, doesn’t it?