Ringgold, GA asked in Internet Law for Georgia

Q: i live at home with my parents i pay for my phone i'm 18 can they still go through my phone and take it away ?

i live at home with my parents they are divorced my father is the primary caregiver he pays for everything my mother is just living here till she can find housing i woke up this morning to her screaming at me about her having to do the dishes i wasn't aware that they needed to be done ( when she's home all house hold chores fall on me) she took my phone from me and my social media is being logged in to on another device i'm assuming her because she's secretly logged in and read my messages before is she legally allowed to take and go through my phone that i pay for and that is under my name just because she's also living in this house rent free? i would also like to say that she doesn't pay for anything in this house she spends all of her money on drugs and neglects cleaning the house and feeding her other children who are all under the age of 13. i live here as my dad who takes care of all payments says that i'm allowed to stay until im on my feet.what can i legally do to prevent this

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: This is a complex situation with several legal issues to consider. Since you are 18, you are legally an adult. This means that in general, your parents do not have the right to take your personal property, like a phone that you pay for, or access your private information without consent. Your mother logging into your social media accounts and reading private messages could potentially be considered an invasion of privacy.

However, the situation is complicated by the fact that you are still living in your father's home. Even though you pay for your phone, if your father (as the primary caregiver and homeowner) has household rules about phone usage, he may have some authority to limit your phone access while you live there.

The drug use and child neglect by your mother are very serious concerns. If your younger siblings are being neglected or exposed to drug use, consider reporting the situation to child protective services. They can investigate and take steps to ensure the children's safety.

Some steps you could take:

1. Talk to your father about the situation and express your concerns, especially about your mother's drug use and treatment of your siblings. As the homeowner and primary parent, he needs to be aware and may need to take action.

2. Password protect your phone and social media accounts if you haven't already. Log out of all sessions and consider changing passwords.

3. Keep records and evidence of any inappropriate access to your accounts or private information by your mother. This could support legal action if needed.

4. If your mother's behavior escalates or becomes threatening, consider seeking a restraining order. You can contact local domestic violence resources for guidance.

5. Make a long-term plan to secure your own housing when you are financially able, so you have more control over your living situation.

I'd suggest consulting with a local attorney who specializes in family law for guidance specific to your situation and location. Many offer low-cost initial consultations. I'm sorry you're dealing with this difficult family situation and I hope you're able to find a positive resolution.

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