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Dating websites can influence child custody decisions

Internet technology and social media are very popular, and, through technology, people are coming up with new ways to communicate all over the U.S., including in Texas. However, the convenience of the Internet may not always bring advantages to the users, especially if the individual is in the middle of settling a divorce or child custody case.

In Houston, Texas, and in the other states, child custody determines each of the divorcing parents' responsibilities and parental rights. Although parents may have different opinions about raising a child, the court's decision on child custody is based on the best interests of the child. A recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers determined that information on dating websites can impact child custody cases negatively.

The survey reported that 59 percent of respondents said that divorce cases used dating websites as evidence. This rate increased during the past three years. The AAML report also stated that 64 percent of those individuals who responded to the survey said that the evidence came from personal information from Match.com, a well-known dating website. It was also confirmed that legal professionals used relationship status, salary, occupation and parental status from those types of websites.

Although it may be common for users to embellish their personal information to attract possible matches, when it comes to divorce cases, a single piece of inaccurate information can affect the divorce settlement, particularly when it comes to a child custody agreement. For example, if one person lists him- or herself as single under "Parental Status," or a statement is made that he or she does not have any children, when that is not true, it can be misconstrued as dishonesty, and hurt the outcome of the child custody settlement.

In such cases, it may be best for a spouse to settle the divorce issues before registering on dating websites. Dating websites may be a great opportunity for divorcing spouses to meet new people, but considering the effect that a dating website may have on a divorce case and child custody may make the parent think more carefully before getting involved.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce and Online Dating: A Match Made In Court?," Alton Abramowitz, March 9, 2013

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