Legal Question in Family Law in Rhode Island

If my kids mother has a restraining order against me and she post public photos of my kids on facebook, would I get in trouble if I copied said photos and posted them to my page?

Asked on 3/23/16, 3:04 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Christopher Pearsall Law Office of Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire

It all depends upon the nature of the restraining order and how you go about your posting.

For instance, there are different kinds of "restraining orders" so to speak. There is a criminal "No Contact" Order that usually is imposed when you are arrested for a domestic assault or a simple assault between you and the mother of your children. There is also a family court Protection from Abuse Order that results when the mother of your children goes before the family court and makes a complaint that she is in fear for her safety due to something she claims you have done. There is also a district court restraining order which is more civil in nature. Lastly, there is a Superior Court Restraining Order which is also civil in nature. Each of these has different wording and different repercussions based on their violation. The wording of the order and how the law interprets it is what controls.

I do not have your specific circumstances, therefore you should not consider this legal advice since every case is based on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

However, in order to try to be somewhat helpful, let me use an example. If you have a Protection from Abuse restraining Order in the family court, read it carefully. (Frankly you should read any restraining order that applies to your carefully.) Family Court Protection from abuse restraining orders will usually restrain and enjoin you from contacting, assaulting, molesting, stalking, cyberstalking, bullying, cyberbullying, harassing, threatening, annoying or otherwise interfering with the person granted the restraining order either at home, at school, on the street or elsewhere.

"Contact" has been interpreted to mean both direct and indirect contact. Therefore, even sending a birthday card or asking someone to say "I'm sorry" to the person for you are, in fact, CONTACT. You cannot use objects, notes, third-parties or even social media to initiate contact with the person who has the restraining order against you. Doing this can result in you being found in violation of the restraining order and can subject you to sanctions or worse yet, criminal charges. Good intentions are not a justification for what you are doing, even if you think you are trying to "make amends" for something you have done or not done.

So, you have asked about social media and copying and reposting pictures of your children that the mother of your children has posted. Be aware that on the surface it looks harmless enough and as long as you were to post the pictures without any comment or statement that you would expect, hope or intend to get back to the mother of your children, then you SHOULD be fine.

HOWEVER, if the restraining order against you contains the words "stalking" or "cyberstalking" then the very fact that you were on her social media page could be used against you. Tread very carefully here. If those words are in the order, then I would not risk it. Save the pictures for yourself and put them in a scrapbook and post them after the restraining order has expired. You have to weigh the potential consequences (and you should be legally aware of what the consequences are) of the order you are subject to versus the benefit you get from posting pictures of your children. If you can, get OTHER pictures of your children and post them and make no reference or inference to or about their mother.

I hope this is helpful. If you need further information, contact me further for an advice session if need be.

All My Best,

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Answered on 3/23/16, 3:44 pm

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