Can Text Messages Be Used Against Me in a Custody Case in Tennessee?
15 February 2022IN: Child Custody
When couples can’t agree on which parent should act as the primary residential parent in a divorce, the court will make that decision. During a child custody dispute, a judge will consider evidence as to who is most prepared given their past parenting performance and their ability to cooperate and encourage a relationship with the other parent. In this case, many different forms of evidence can be used, including social media posts and text messaging.
Texting and Child Custody Disputes Often Don’t Mix
While texting can be a convenient, no hassle way to communicate in a normal setting, there are times and scenarios when text messages can work against you. In matters of divorce and child custody in Tennessee, divorcing couples must take extreme caution when texting things to each other that can be used against them in court.
Text messages, social media posts, and other digital communication are now commonly used as evidence in divorce cases. Unfortunately, when couples are going through a divorce, emotions can run high, and before you know it, a text is sent that the sender later regrets. Consequently, many Tennessee divorce attorneys will advise their clients to temporarily stop communicating with their spouse via email and text and take care with any social media posts until the divorce is final.
When What You Wrote Isn’t What You Meant
Texts and digital communication can be a double-edged sword in the best of circumstances. Most of us have had the experience of someone misinterpreting something we have written in a text or email because of the lack of context, voice, and physical body language.
Consequently, even in the most ordinary circumstances, digital and electronic communication can be easily misinterpreted and taken to mean something completely different from how it was meant. Now, consider how these communications may be interpreted during a highly contentious divorce setting.
What a Text Can Say About You
Just like any other electronic communication, text messages can be saved and accessed later to serve as evidence. Especially during highly contentious divorces, text messaging is often used in matters of child custody in Tennessee family courts.
Texts messaging can be used to help prove
-That you lack emotional control or exhibit anger issues -That you are alienating or being unsupportive of the other spouse -That you are not being actively involved in your children’s lives and activities -That you are neglecting your financial responsibilities toward your children -That your behavior and lifestyle is not consistent with the best interests of the children
In addition, if you realize that you have sent an incriminating text message and attempt to delete it, it can be considered spoliation of evidence and become a more significant problem. Furthermore, text messages that you send to your children may also be used as evidence against you.
Consider How Your Text May Be Interpreted
Consequently, it is important to consider how the court may interpret any digital communication you have with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. The best course of action is to refrain from texting or emailing your spouse at all during a divorce dispute, but if you do,
Take time before sending it to let the emotion dissipate. Re-read it with a calm eye and adjust it if necessary before sending it. Never send texts in the middle of an argument or if you have been drinking.
If you have been receiving texts from your spouse that reflect concerning behavior, keep those texts and digital posts or messages and share them with your Tennessee divorce attorney. They may be used as evidence in your support during a custody case.
Being On Your Best Behavior During a Custody Dispute
Couples who are in the middle of a divorce do not usually behave at their best, and grave mistakes can be made. Any threats or other information conveyed in a text message, particularly in the heat of emotion, can be used in support of or against parents in contentious divorce settings. Consequently, it is critical to have the skilled advice of an experienced Tennessee child custody lawyer if you are in the middle of a child custody dispute.
At the Law Office of David L. Scott, we come to each child custody case with focus, determination, and the staunch advocacy of our clients. If you are facing a child custody dispute or other family law matter, our Tennessee child custody attorneys provide skilled legal guidance to ensure that you fully understand the process and your legal options. Then we diligently defend your rights under the law. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.