Smartphone Use, Texting & Child Custody Cases

If you’re driving with the kids in the car and someone sends you a message, what do you do? Pulling over in a safe spot to read it or respond to it is reasonable and can prevent you from having an accident. Reading and replying while driving is dangerous—but a large majority of drivers do it.

Thanks to technology, ex-spouses are using cellphone records in custody cases and making winning arguments that the other spouse is not spending quality time with the children, texting while driving and endangering them, or ignoring the children because the spouse in always on the phone or texting when the children are visiting.

When You Think No One Is Paying Attention…

If you’re running errands or going to the park with your children, do you find yourself constantly on the phone? How often do you hand over your smartphone to one of the kids when you find that nothing else calms them down or while you’re gathered for family dinners?
One thing to keep in mind is that you were once living in the same house with your ex. He or she knows you and your habits fairly well. If you are someone who was constantly on the phone or texting, it won’t take much for your spouse to try to use that behavior against you in court.

While one or two isolated events may be innocent enough, if you or your ex-spouse is contesting custody or visitation with your children, this behavior can hurt either of you. Additionally, should a texting conversation with your ex turn less than civil, you can be portrayed as a threatening or violent person for losing your cool in a text message.

Phones Track Everything

While your spouse may be just as guilty of using the television, video games or other type of media as a “babysitter” when the kids are with him or her, documenting it is more difficult. Cellphone records can expose almost every move you make because of the built-in tracking software that automatically remains on.

Be Polite to Your Ex and Be Engaged With Your Children

Here are some things to think about before you send that text message or let the kids play with your phone:

  • Always try to be polite to your ex. You want to convey that you and your spouse can communicate with each other for the best interests of your children.
  • Assume that a judge will be reading your text messages. Do you appear flexible and accommodating when it comes to activities with the kids or do you appear as argumentative and unaccommodating?
  • Limit your kids’ phone use. Stay safe in the car by letting your kids play with your phone while you run errands. When you’re home with them, engage them in conversation or provide non-tech activities to keep them entertained while you’re making dinner or unwinding from a long work day.

Even if you and your children play video games and watch TV as family time, try to limit how much you rely on electronics. And, above all, do not text and drive.

Consult with an experienced custody and divorce attorney regarding the time your children are spending with your ex, especially if you feel that they are in danger due to neglect or in a vehicle with a texting-while-driving ex-spouse.

Smartphone Use, Texting & Child Custody Cases