Public Persona Causes Radio Host to Lose Child-Custody Case

Posted By Hollingsworth & Zivitz Attorneys at Law || 7-Jul-2017

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 best interests.
  • 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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