Are Your Text Messages Hurting Your Chances in Your Child Custody Case?
Today’s people are texting more and talking less, with today’s average adult spending 23 hours a week texting. According to a study done by Nielsen Mobile, Americans exchange twice as many texts as they do phone calls. With those numbers in mind, you would think that we would take a little more care in what we send via text message, but for whatever reason, the social etiquette we show on social media, in person, and on the phone all goes out the window when we text. From lewd photos to incriminating confessions, people will say just about anything via text, all the while mistakenly believing that no one else is watching (or reading). But this could not be further from the truth.
Just as with the Internet, anything you write or send via text message is stored in some greater database that can be accessed at any time—yes, even if you delete the messages. Because of this, it is extremely important that you refrain from saying anything incriminating or potentially harmful to your character via text message.
What You Text Can and Will Be Used Against You
From idle threats to flippant remarks, and full on rants to cutting insults, divorcing couples send it all. But while many individuals only send such out-of-character texts because they are hurt, sad, angry, and scared all at once, if the recipient so chooses, he or she can take those messages and use them as evidence of your “bad character” in your impending child custody suit.
For instance, if you say something along the lines of, “You will never see your children again if you do not stop seeing that woman!” the courts will not only see you as a danger to your children, but they will also see you as a danger to your former spouse. Even if they do not view the threat as extremely serious, they may determine that you are inflexible, and foresee you causing visitation issues if things do not go your way.
Another example of an incriminating text may be, “Your children do not even want to see you.” If the courts saw this, they would assume that you are actively committing what is called “parental alienation,” which is when one parent makes up lies about the other parent to the children, bad mouths the other parent in front of the children, or actively tries to keep his or her children from having a relationship with the other parent. Courts are extremely against parental alienation, and if they think that it is going on, they will limit or revoke your parenting rights altogether.
The Admissibility of Text Messages
Whether or not your text messages will be admissible in family court is completely up to the judge. Some judges may say that using text messages as evidence is an invasion of privacy, while others will contend that if the cell phone is a part of the family account, then it is family property and thereby subject to scrutiny.
Furthermore, in order for text messages to be allowed in court as evidence, you must be able to prove the following:
- That the author of the text message was without question your child’s other parent; and
- That the texts or text records were obtained in a legal way.
While it can be difficult to prove authorship and authenticity of a text message or text message conversation in court, it has been done. Because of the very real consequences that electronic evidence can pose, the Florida family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White recommend keeping all text communication between you and your former spouse to a bare minimum, and to really watch what you say in your text messages to friends and family members in the meantime.
Consult a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our child custody lawyers do everything in their power to achieve a desirable outcome for you in your child custody case. However, in order to do that, we need your help in ensuring that your former spouse does not have any incriminating or harmful evidence to use against you. For experienced legal guidance in your child custody case, contact our Boca Raton family law firm at 561.391.9943 or online today.