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Court rules father to serve time for taping child custody hearing

There are few things that can cause more bitterness and fighting than when parents are unable to resolve with whom their child should reside in the event of a divorce. The ensuing child custody battle can lead to a parent making questionable decisions during the process. The majority of court hearings in California prohibit recording by the involved parties, as it can violate wire tapping laws and privacy expectations.

Recently, a state superior court upheld a ruling that a father be sentenced to a jail term of between 47 and 100 weeks after he was found guilty of violating courthouse rules against the recording of closed hearings. According to state prosecutors, the courthouse where the illegal taping occurred has signage that expressly forbids the recording of hearings. However, during a child custody conference between the 43-year-old man and his former spouse, the man purportedly concealed his cellular phone after starting the recording application.

An individual who was in attendance of the meeting noticed the device and summoned a deputy. At that time, the father allegedly retrieved his phone and quickly exited the courthouse. He later posted the recording on his social media site. When questioned why he made the recording in violation of the rules, he claimed that he had no knowledge that his activities were illegal and that his intention was to expose alleged corruption of his case.

A judge later determined that the man's alleged ignorance of the prohibition against recording the proceedings was not an adequate defense. Instead, the court found that the proposed jail term was appropriate in this situation. While this incident did not take place in California, every state has protections in place to ensure that individuals are entitled to their privacy, especially when there is no expectation that he or she will be recorded. Parents residing in California who are struggling to resolve the issue of child custody may choose to seek the guidance of an attorney who will work to ensure that the best interests of the children are assured according to their current needs and circumstances.

Source:, "Dad deserves jail term for recording child custody hearing, Pa. court says", Matt Miller, Jan. 4, 2018

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