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Do Parents Have a Right to Look Through Their Child’s Phone? 

 Posted on May 01, 2024 in Family Law

Naperville, IL child custody lawyerParents who have had a teenager or preteen child living in their home know that kids this age tend to be secretive. Social studies suggest that this is a normal part of teenage development as children seek to create some distance from their parents and establish an independent identity.

Although this may be a normal stage of human development, most parents understandably have concerns about their children’s behavior during teenage years. This is especially true in the age of the internet and smartphones, where other teenagers and even adults can have direct access to children without parents being aware of it. 

These problems become more complex when parents get divorced. Even while married, parents often have very difficult ideas about how much privacy to give their children. After divorce, parents go their separate ways, and their parenting methods go with them. Unfortunately, this often leads to heated disagreements between parents as children move between different houses with different rules about internet and cell phone use and how much privacy the children can expect. Some parents might even find the other parent’s restriction of a child’s privacy to be abusive. 

At Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, our Illinois divorce and child custody lawyers cannot prevent these kinds of disagreements between co-parents and their children. But during a divorce, when child custody decisions are being made, and after a divorce, when child custody decisions may need to be changed, we are here to help parents find an arrangement that works best for everyone. 

Do Children Have a Right to Privacy from Their Parents? 

While parents are allowed to give every child as much privacy as they think is best, in legal terms, there is no law protecting a child’s privacy. In fact, courts have consistently ruled the opposite - that not only do children not have any privacy protections, but that parents have a right and an obligation to be aware of what children are doing. Once a child turns 18 or is emancipated, he or she enjoys the full protection of our constitutional rights, including the right to privacy. But until a child turns 18, he has no expectation of privacy. 

Is it Child Abuse if a Parent Looks Through A Child’s Phone? 

While parents certainly differ in their opinions about this question, legally speaking, it is not child abuse for a parent to look through a child’s phone. In fact, there are many good reasons for parents to be aware of what a child is doing on his phone. Not only are there predatory adults who seek to take advantage of naive children without parental supervision, but children can also land themselves in legal trouble by doing things like sending sexual texts and images

However, simply because a behavior is not strictly illegal does not mean it could not be considered abusive. While a court is very unlikely to view a parent going through a child’s phone as abusive, if the complete removal of privacy is a pattern of larger, unjustified punishments, the behavior may deserve a closer look. If your child comes home from your co-parent’s home and complains of things that sound alarming to you, trust your instincts and speak with an attorney. 

Contact a Naperville, IL Divorce Lawyer Today

Whether you have concerns that your ex is abusing your child or you are worried that your child is making unsupervised decisions that could negatively impact his future at your ex’s home, Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices is here to help. Our DuPage County, IL child custody lawyers can help you identify whether there are custody issues that need to be addressed and what you can do if your child is not getting the care he or she deserves from your co-parent. Call us at 630-932-9100 now to schedule your free consultation.

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