Friday, January 8, 2021
From the National Law Review:
Here are some real time examples of family law matters in which electronic evidence carried the day: a recovering alcoholic looking to regain custody of her son was photographed in a bar with a glass of wine; a father looking for shared custody certified in court documents that his live-in girlfriend was not a smoker, just to have his soon-to-be ex-wife provide the court with pictures of his girlfriend smoking (which had been taken from his Facebook page). In one custody case, a father had an application on his child’s phone which recorded how fast the child was travelling when in the mother’s car (30 mph over the speed limit). In another example, a client receiving alimony was captured with a live-in boyfriend based upon a small camera that had been placed on the telephone pole across the street from her house. A “friend” of a woman seeking alimony recorded a phone call in which the woman admitted she had a secret stash of thousands of dollars. All of these images or recordings were admissible in court proceedings and were used against the litigants.
As long as the individual responsible for the recording, or electronic evidence is available to authenticate it, meaning they can confirm it is an accurate depiction of what occurred, the evidence will likely be considered by the judge hearing the case.
When involved in litigation, particularly in family matters, litigants find themselves under the proverbial microscope. The sad reality is that people must assume that they are always being photographed or recorded. In New Jersey, one party to a conversation is allowed to record without the other knowing. This is the time to be the best version of yourself, and as hard as it may be, refrain from doing and saying things that can hurt your position. This includes badmouthing the other party, even if you believe you are speaking with a confidant. If it’s not something you want a judge to hear, don’t say it.
Read more here.