Mike and Heather Martin, a Maryland couple famous for their YouTube channel full of prank videos, recently lost custody of two of their children after a controversial video the couple posted went viral. Public backlash and concern for the children prompted their biological mother to seek emergency custody, which was granted. In the video, the father and stepmother scream profanities at one the children for spilling ink in the carpet. The ink was in fact invisible, and part of a planned “prank.”
The Martin’s YouTube Channel, dubbed Daddyofive, featured numerous videos of the parents pulling pranks on all the children, but seemed particularly targeted at their 9-year-old son. The pranks escalate to pushing, screaming, shouting, and explicit language. In some videos, the children are driven to tears, anger, and complete frustration.
Social Media Outrage
As the “Invisible Ink” video began to circulate on social media, viewers were outraged. An online petition was created requesting Child Protective Services (CPS) to investigate the family for signs of emotional and physical abuse. Countless YouTube videos popped up shaming the couple and making heartfelt pleas on behalf of the children. Several of these videos referenced numerous episodes of harsh behavior on the part of the Martins that could possibly constitute abuse. Many YouTubers point out that most of the pranks seem to be directed at one child in particular, the boy featured in the “Invisible Ink” prank.
As public outrage swelled against the YouTubers, the couple took to morning television to answer the allegations of abuse. Mrs. Martin claimed the videos featured on their You Tube channel were not a reflection of their family, but were more like characters the family played. She called the video in question a “show.” The couple publicly apologized and called the prank “harmless.” They claim the children enjoy being in the videos.
The child featured in the Invisible Ink video and his older sister have returned to the custody of their biological mother. She says that seeing her kids abused has been “heartbreaking.” She says the children are doing well. The couple has since deleted all of their public videos.
Social Media and Legal Ramifications
With video services such as YouTube, Facebook Live, and Snapchat, we now have access to the intimate details of family life we might not have otherwise seen. As in the Martin’s case, that access can have serious consequences when it comes to child custody. In many states, social media posts and images are admissible in court. A reported 81 percent of U.S. divorce lawyers say they have seen an increase in the use of social media evidence in court.
Mendham Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for the Rights of Children
Mendham child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. understand how to use social media evidence in your child custody case. If you are concerned about the welfare of your child, we can help. Contact the skilled family law team at Lyons & Associates, P.C. at our Somerville, New Jersey offices at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.