You never know when or where the next video camera or recording device is going to show up. And when you’re in the middle of a contested divorce, particularly if there are custody issues, caution is key. I was reminded of this recently when a local news channel reported on complaints against Amazon delivery drivers who had thrown packages at customers’ doors. The drivers had been caught because the homeowners had set up video cameras to monitor anyone coming up to the front door.
A 2 minute Internet search provides countless options for a shopper who is looking to set up some type of surveillance on practically anyone. Hidden cameras (and not so hidden cameras), GPS devices and sound recorders have come a long way. The reality is that any litigant has to assume that the person on the other side of a matter is going to use any and all available methods to win their case.
Some real time examples: a case in which a recovering alcoholic looking to regain custody of her son was video 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 is smoking (which had been taken from his Facebook page). 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 taped 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.
When involved in litigation, particularly in family type situations, the sad reality is that people have to assume that they are being photographed or recorded practically at all times. This is 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. Even if you are you are speaking or with a confidant.
That being said, the reality is that people do and say things that in retrospect they wish they hadn’t. When this happens, immediately advise your attorneys so damage control can commence. Better you have control of the situation, no matter how bad.
Jennifer Weisberg Millner is a partner in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Family Law Practice Group. Jennifer is resident in the firm’s Princeton Office, although she practices throughout the state. Jennifer can be reached at 609-895-7612 or firstname.lastname@example.org.