Can your public image affect the outcome of your child custody case? The
short answer is yes—your image matters. For many, an issue of a
public persona versus what actually goes on in your daily life isn’t
a concern. For those like radio host Alex Jones, best known for his opinionated
personality and conspiracy theories behind
The Alex Jones Show, as well as the internet news website
InforWars.com—public persona can play a significant role.
While Jones was initially awarded primary physical custody of the parties’
minor children, ex-wife Kelly Jones has now won the right to decide where
their children will live. Kelly Jones argued the on-air personality played
by her ex-husband was one in the same with his off-air personality, testifying
he “…wants to break Alex Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo
to get raped…He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching
him broadcast.” While Jones is known for his bold personality, the
ex-wife urged that, as evidenced by his numerous public broadcasts, he’s
not “a stable person”.
Attorney for Alex Jones claimed Jones’ on-air personality was all
an act, but a jury disagreed and awarded the ex-wife joint custody along
with the decision to have their three children make their primary residence with her.
Indiana Considers a Child’s Best Interest
While custody disputes are case and state specific, Indiana courts all
follow the same general principles when it comes to determining child
custody. These principles stem from one simple question, “What’s
in the best interest of the child?”. The question itself is simple,
but getting to an answer is the difficult part. Indiana law dictates that
a court must consider all relevant factors, including:
- The age and sex of the child.
- The wishes of the child’s parents or parents.
- The wishes of the child with more consideration given when the child is
at least 14 years of age.
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with their parent(s),
sibling(s), and any other person that may significantly affect a child’s
- The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
- Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by a parent.
- Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de factor custodian.
While a court isn’t strictly limited to the above 8 factors, a parent’s
public persona could certainly affect a child’s adjustment to their
home, school, and community, a child’s mental and physical wellbeing,
and, in cases like Alex Jones where the public persona is that of a violent
one, reflect a pattern of domestic or family violence. It’s important
to remember a court must consider
all relevant factors that have the potential to affect a child’s best interest.
Think Twice Before Posting on Social Media
How is a court to know and determine what’s an act and what’s
not? Absent witness testimony to the contrary, it would be hard to differentiate
between a public persona and a private one. If you’re thinking a
lack of fame and notoriety means this issue couldn’t affect your
own personal child custody case—thing again.
With the ever-growing popularity of social media sites such as Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, users are voluntarily offering tidbits
of their personal lives up to the public for grabs. While it may not be
the same as portraying an intense radio personality, social media posts
can certainly depict a specific persona that may not always be favorable
to your child-custody case.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your child-custody dispute,
the attorneys at Hollingsworth & Zivitz practice in all family law
matters and can help. Contact us today at (317)569-2200.
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