Electronic communication in your New York divorce case

You have just taken the difficult but necessary step of retaining a matrimonial attorney and filing for divorce and custody of your children. Your spouse has been served with a Summons & Complaint. Now the communication between you and your soon to be ex has gone from bad to worse with verbal sparring spilling over to e-mail and text message - do not fall into this trap!

Every single electronic communication between you and your spouse is subject to introduction as evidence during trial.

Such electronic communication can be advantageous if used correctly in a custody matter. If your spouse is unwilling to work with you and "co-parent," you can send emails and text messages to your spouse attempting to engage them in decision making related to your children, to wit: their extracurricular activities such as sports or music; medical issues, including mental health; homework issues; and even events at school. One of the factors the Court's look to in custody matters is whether a parent will place the children's needs before his/her own and would ensure a meaningful contact between the children and the non-custodial parent.

During trial, these communications can be introduced as evidence at trial as additional proof that it is in the "best interest(s)" of your child(ren) that you be awarded sole custody. You are the one that follows up with their teachers, places their mental health at the forefront as well as researches and plans their activities. In other words, you are the one that "steers the ship" and your spouse is just a passenger along for the ride.

For more information on custody in New York, please see the Blog entry entitled "How is custody defind in New York State?" on our website.

Also of significant importance is to safe guard all of your electronic communications. A divorce and/or custody dispute can become very emotional - which causes people to do things that they would not normally do. So please, change your email and phone passwords. While it is likely information obtained in this manner would be inadmissible at trial, you do not want to place any more anxiety on stress on yourself during an already difficult situation. Also make sure to change any passwords you have for online bank accounts to prevent any tampering and/or looting by your spouse.

Remember that all communications with your attorneys are privileged. Please keep it that way. Do not email your lawyers from work computers - potentially not only placing attorney client privilege in jeopardy, but you your job as well!

At Rieger & Fried, LLP, we represent individuals in deteriorating and in some cases abusive marriages who need to move on with their lives. At Rieger & Fried, LLP, we are not just aggressive litigators, but offer our clients compassion and understanding in these trying times. If you have any questions that need answers about your particular situation, we invite you to call our office and schedule an appointment or consultation.