Let the lesson be learned: In this day and age of technology, what you say, in whatever format, could be used against you later.
This morning's news story relating to Alex Baldwin's voice mail message to his daughter, who I believe was reported as being 11 years old, should be a lesson to every person going through a divorce and to every person who may now or in the future have a possible custody issue.
While many states have laws limiting the recording of conversations, whether in person or on the phone (and you should consult an attorney about this issue before ever attempting to make such a recording because it could be a crime), if a person voluntarily creates a recorded message or statement, whether on a voice mail system or by sending an email, the statements made likely are admissible in a court proceeding.
I tell my clients all the time to be very careful in emails. In many situations I also ask to review many emails before they are sent. Finally, I have clients keep every email, in bound and out bound, so that I can review them prior to hearings and make sure there are no surprises waiting for me in the courtroom.
If the recording of Alex Baldwin is accurate, it is wrong on so many levels. Even if his allegations are true that his former spouse is attempting to alienate his child from him, it is up to him to take the high road and keep his daughter out of the middle of, what should be, an argument between the adults.
Think before you speak and before you write. That is the message for the day.
This is very good advice. I always have my clients bring in the email and telephone messages they receive from their spouse or ex-spouse. I also warn my clients about leaving messages that will hurt their case. It is surprising to me that people still leave messages that will hurt their case. In this day and age of technology, they have to know their messages can be preserved and used against them. There just isn't any excuse for doing so.
In Missouri, unless you are an attorney or other regulated profession, recordings may be made of a conversation that you are participating in. There are times when I direct my clients to have a small recorder in their pocket to record what is being said during exchanges of the children. There are two reasons for doing this. First, I want to be able to prove my client did not say something that the opposing side is or may accuse my client of saying. Second, I want to be able to prove how nasty the opposing side can be when no one else is around or when the children are around. Again, I remind my client to be careful of what comes out of his/her mouth as the recording can just as easy be used against him/her by the other side.
As to Alec Baldwin's situation - even though I can understand frustration (and he seems to have been under a lot of it during his custody battle), there is no excuse for saying what he did to his child. I know there are times when all parents become extremely frustrated by their children (me included) and just want to blast them for their behavior. Probably Baldwin's daughter was acting like the pig he accused her of being, but you just do not say things like that to a child and in such a hateful manner. You step away, back off, whatever you need to do to calm down; then you make the phone call or talk to your child. I am sure Baldwin deeply regretted what he said to his daughter even before the recording was made public. It is a shame that someone had to publish the recording. It does not make it easier for any one - Baldwin, Baysinger or their child. If Baysinger did publish the record, I have to wonder if she really thought of her child first; it makes me wonder about her abilities to parent just as much as Baldwin's statements make you wonder about his abilities. The recording should have been kept private with just the family court hearing it.
Source: Pennsylvania Family Law