Heymann & Fletcher

Child custody dispute centered on YouTube videos

Love it or hate it, YouTube has become a deeply ingrained part of American pop culture. In fact, some people in New Jersey and elsewhere are making a very good living by posting content on the site. It is important to understand that sharing video footage of one's personal life with the world can have a number of unintended consequences, as one couple discovered when they were faced with a child custody dispute over footage involving their children.

The case centered on a YouTube channel called "DaddyOFive," in which a man and his wife posted videos of their kids. Some of those videos showed the children being subjected to "pranks" at the hands of the adults. One featured a little boy being convinced that he was about to be put up for adoption. Others showed the children being encouraged to beat each other up.

The individuals behind the YouTube channel are the biological father of the children and his wife. They may have thought that the content was amusing, but many in the digital community were outraged and shocked by the way that the children were treated in the videos. That led to calls for child protective services to get involved.

Once aware of the content of the videos, the biological mother of the children took action to have the kids placed into her care. A court agreed, and the mother was granted emergency custody. As the child custody dispute moves forward, the court will determine a more permanent placement for the kids. The father and stepmother have taken down the disturbing videos, but it is unclear if that alone will be sufficient in the eyes of the court. For those in New Jersey who share photos or videos of their children online, this case highlights the importance of reviewing that content with a critical eye.

Source: USA TODAY, "YouTube stars lose custody of children after controversial 'prank' videos", Mary Bowerman, May 3, 2017

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