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Oh, you have text messages??

Painful truth – you overvalue the text messages, voicemails, secret recordings and videos you have taken of your significant other showing him or her high / drunk / dangling from a bridge or involved in illegal activity.  Meaning – your Family Court judge does not think very much of them at all.

How can that be?!  You say, aghast.

Here’s how it can be.  I say, jaded.

You are holding in your hand a device with a text message from, say, your boyfriend, from June, 2011 where he says he doesn’t even care if you take the child away (to, say, Arizona).  Proof positive, right?  Dead to rights?  This guy doesn’t even care about his child!  He thumbed his total lack of affection for the kiddo right into SMS!  And here you are in the middle of a heated child custody case about that exact child!  Any idiot attorney can “win” this case now!  Why did you even pay an attorney?  Closed case, right?  You do a dance.  No.

Family court judges are savvy.  You shouldn’t expect to run up to the judge’s bench and throw your phone at them letting them read that seven-year-old text message.  Because that is, you know, evidence.  And there are, like, rules.  Drag.

First of all – never give your phone to a judge.  The judge does not want to listen to your playlists or flip through your nudes.  Print them out.

Next first of all:
Can you even authenticate that text message?

And what was the context (if you want to refer to a random text message you better be willing to enter the entire conversation a few hundred texts prior to an thereafter {for example, a few minutes before your boyfriend-now-husband said he “didn’t care if you take the child to Arizona” didn’t you say that it was just to visit your parents, and that the little guy was looking forward to it?  In fact, didn’t you beg and guilt trip to take little Tommy to Arizona just for half a week over February break because you weren’t sure how much longer your father had left?  DON’T YOU WANT OUR CHILD TO SEE HIS GRANDPA, YOU MONSTER?}).  Context is king.

And yes judges know that you can delete certain text messages, and not others, revising history and narrative.  If too much time lapses before and after “the” text message was sent, expect a suspicious judge.

Fourth of all: hey, sometimes people say some really stupid stuff when they are upset / envious / drunk.  It happens – and not only to bad parents.

Judges do not care for their (very) limited trial time to become a Magic the Gathering battle of text messages (I’m not sure what that means).

If you think that your significant other’s text messages from years ago will color the judge’s opinion of what kind of parent they are, think again.  They would much rather know how many PTA meetings or scout sessions or little league practices they went to.  Great parents say stupid S*&$ sometimes.

You overvalue your texts – but that doesn’t mean you should delete them.

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