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Can Text Messages Be Used in Court for Child Custody?

In this day and age, there’s nothing easier than sending a text message. However, many of us know from experience that it’s quite easy for written words to be interpreted differently than originally intended.

This can be especially true when parents are communicating via text message during a pending child custody case. Just like with the internet, any text message you send or receive can be saved and accessed at a later date. Ultimately, a seemingly harmless text message can come back to haunt you later on if it’s taken out of context.

Text Messages Used an Evidence

Cell phone records alone are not typically a basis for many child custody arguments. On its own, a singular text message may not make for a strong piece of evidence. However, when used in conjunction with other pieces of evidence, the things one writes within text messages can be used to show or bring into question:

  • The character of the person
  • Potential parental alienation
  • Anger problems
  • Harassment
  • Safety of the children or family

On the other hand, it can be difficult to establish the authenticity or author of a text message. After all, cell phones can easily be used by other people to send text messages. In order to have text messages be used as evidence in a child custody case, you and your child custody lawyer must prove that:

  • The person who wrote the text and sent it was undoubtedly your ex/your child’s other parent
  • The texts were obtained in a legal way
  • The text messages are material and necessary to the issue pending in Court

Monitoring a Child’s Cell phone

It’s not only text messages sent to the other parent that may be accessed, but also those sent to the child’s cell phone. In New York, it’s generally legal for parents to monitor their child’s cell phone, including the texts they send and receive, until they are of legal age (18 years old).

This means that one parent may be able to view and gather text messages sent to their child from the other parent. Whether or not these text messages can be used in a child custody court will be decided by the Judge.

Some judges may side with the argument that using text message evidence is an invasion of privacy as well as unreliable “hearsay”. But, in certain cases, courts may deem that text message evidence is admissible in court if it is for a divorce, child custody case or abuse/neglect case. As such, the use of text messages as evidence in a pending Court proceeding will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Guiding You Through the Child Custody Process

While it may be difficult, keeping a respectful, peaceful, and cordial relationship with your child’s other parent is the best approach, both when it comes to future legal disputes as well as your child’s well-being.

Whether you are in the midst of a child custody dispute or you want more information on how to begin the process on solid ground, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Long Island child custody attorneys are your earliest convenience. We will provide you with the guidance, answers, and advice you need to ensure the best interests of your family.

Contact Wisselman, Harounian & Associates at (516) 773-8300 to speak with our legal team for free today.

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