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How can text and email affect a child custody dispute?

Convenience is the reason why many Houston, Texas, residents prefer communicating through text or email. However, those two methods of communication can be inconvenient when divorcing parties use them against one another in a divorce or child custody proceeding. A child custody dispute may erupt after splitting up because commonly, parents want to ensure that their children are well taken care of and disagree as to how that should occur. As much as possible, each ex-spouse needs to be cautious in order not to lose his or her custody of the children.

The American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers recently released data that show that 81 percent of divorcing couples use social networking. Facebook tops the list with 66 percent usage. While text messaging and email are not in the top percentile, inappropriate messages through text, emails or social media can be used as evidence in child custody decisions.

Divorcing spouses should not send electronic messages expressing anger. In fact, a parent in a custody battle needs to delay or cancel a message that is fuelled by frustration. The divorcing spouses need to consider that they do not have any control over where their messages will end up. At the same time, the recipient of the message can also relay it to others and may need to divulge it in court in the interest of full disclosure. Finally, when a text or email becomes evidence, it becomes public record, and those messages can have a negative effect on those who may read them.

Parents in the middle of a child custody dispute should note that the family courts base their child custody decisions on the best interests of the child. Although there are several factors that a court considers, if a parent has not exercised discretion when it comes to electronic communications, the court may deem that parent not suitable to have custody of the child or children.

Source: The Washington Times, “Email, texting can become a WMD during a divorce or custody case,” Myra Fleisher, April 23, 2013

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