How filming your children can cost you custody battle

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Parents are resorting to filming and recording their children in desperate attempts to win custody in divorce cases, lawyers have revealed.

In an effort to gather evidence against ex-partners they are using mobile phones and tablets to record their children but the lawyers have warned that it can backfire.

Children are being left   “exceptionally distressed” and the tactic can actually cause the parent to lose their case.

Modern digital recording devices have led to parents creating their own evidence but, while some recordings are being done openly,   others are done covertly

Cara Nuttall, a partner at JMW Solicitors, said: “Many often fail to recognise how harmful such behaviour can be, or how negatively it can impact on their case.

“Their aim is to try to ‘prove’ to the court the child’s wishes and feelings that they prefer to spend time with them or don’t like being with the other parent.

“Smartphones and other technology make it extremely easy to record a child, and many see this as the best way to prove their point. But it is rarely the answer and the manner in which it is done tends to do more harm than good.”

Parents risk the local authority intervening over concerns for a child’s welfare or to restrict the amount of time they can spend with the child.

They also risk breaking data protection laws, especially if the recordings also capture other children. Last year a father lost custody of his daughter after sewing bugs into her school blazer in an attempt to listen in to her meetings with her social worker.

In a recent ruling Mr Justice Peter Jackson said: “It is almost always likely to be wrong for a recording device to be placed on a child for the purpose of gathering evidence in family proceedings, whether or not the child is aware of its presence.   “This should hardly need saying, but nowadays it is all too easy for individuals to record other people without their knowledge.”

He awarded custody to the child’s mother, who had described the father’s actions as “unbelievable” and “really disturbing”.

London-based solicitors Vardags said that courts had been slow to accept video evidence, leading parents to take matters into their own hands.

Ayesha Vardag, president of the firm, said: “Parents filming themselves interrogating their child about the other’s parenting style is never a good thing, and often descends into putting words into their mouth. It harms the child’s welfare and gives the court nothing of value.”

However, she added that video evidence can sometimes “provide an objective view of critical evidence” if parents manage to capture abusive or disruptive behaviour, for example at a handover.

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3 thoughts on “How filming your children can cost you custody battle

  1. This is a manipulative slant on why parents are videotaping children. It appears to me to be lawyers trying to eliminate the only recourse a parent has to protect themselves from the lies and false allegations, so frequently used to destroy a parent, alienate children from their other parent and gain the upper hand in court custody cases. Lieing (perjury) is rewarded in court. False claims of domestic violence is the silver bullet and because it wins it is often encouraged by attorneys to their clients. When one parent lies and makes up all kinds of things and tells the judge resulting in false charges, false ppos, false visitation orders , loss of custody …and the judge just takes their word for it ..with zero evidence the other parent has to protect themselves by videotaping. Lies like ” he tried to run me over with his car”, ” he raped me when he came to pick up “, “he comes late…or he never shows up for pick up”, he yells and swears out the window” ” the child is terrified of getting in his car” blah, blah, blah , blah. It is sick, pathological behavior and happens all the time.

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Linda, about the court’s tendency to believe mom’s that are lying about the other parent to attack their character in hopes of getting more parenting time or eliminating the father’s time with his children altogether. Unfortunately, they believe them even without specific facts or evidence.

  2. Why is it wrong to record a call where your child is ringing up for you to help them as they are being mistreated? Imagine the huge distress to the father being unable to do anything to stop that current situation other than calling the police – and that’s if they attend. Child protection, out of hours, do nothing. I agree it’s not right to interview your child asking questions about home life and harm etc and recording it. But I don’t see why recordings phone calls when your children are being harmed should go against you. Imagine the distress to the parent aswell if they are allowed contact and the child tells you they’ve been harmed by the other parent. You report it. The parent denies it then then force the child not to tell the truth when social workers ask them about such incidents. Commonsense seems to be non existent with all professionals. It doesn’t seem to cross professionals’ minds that the child still has to live with that parent even after the truth has come out. So when they fail to protect the child and the child gets harmed further for telling the truth this results in the child going back to lying over injuries or take back incidents they have reported at the start of the day once the parent has spoken to them. Should be called child harming services a lot of the time instead of child protection

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