“After years spent finalizing their divorce, the custody battle between Bethany Frankel and Jason Hoppy over their 7-year-old daughter Bryn continues.”
Within this opening sentence from a recent E!news article lies an invaluable lesson about divorce – You can be pulled back into court even after the divorce is final. This is especially true when there are children in common. The takeaway here is that our actions continue to be evidence even after the judgment is signed and you are officially a single person again. With this in mind, it is imperative that we act accordingly.
The frustrating reality is that our actions are evidence before, during and after divorce. The things we say and do (or don’t say or do) have the potential to be introduced in court by either party. This is something that is easy to lose sight of but must never be forgotten.
Post-Divorce Custody Issues
In the case of Frankel and Hoppy, the Judge has re-ordered them to undergo a forensic custody evaluation. In all likelihood, the evaluator will interview and observe both parties with their daughter. They will also look into their respective pasts to see if there is anything that will inform their evaluation. This is where the ‘actions are evidence’ rule will come into play in a BIG way.
For example, two incidents from Hoppy’s recent past will no doubt be reviewed and contemplated in the evaluation. Last October, he accepted a plea deal for stalking and harassing Frankel and restraining order was issued. Earlier in the year, he was again charged with aggravated harassment and also stalking Frankel for, among other incidents, showing up at their daughter’s school to confront her. Hoppy’s actions will now reverberate as important evidence in the continued custody battle.
How Actions Become Evidence
The fact that he confronted Frankel at their daughter’s school may be interpreted to mean that he makes poor decisions, has anger issues, risked exposing their daughter their legal battle and isn’t making their daughter’s best interests a priority.
Furthermore, he has demonstrated a pattern of domestic violence behavior when it comes to repeatedly stalking and harassing Frankel. When a child is exposed to domestic violence, the courts consider it child abuse. His actions will most certainly be used as evidence against him.
In Hoppy’s case, we are talking about some extreme, criminal, actions. However, it’s the little things that can bite you. A voicemail, text, email or argument that paints you in a negative light can be used to later argue that you aren’t interested in co-parenting or are alienating the other parent from the child(ren). After a divorce is final, remembering that a return to court is always possible helps us to be mindful of the ‘actions are evidence’ rule. This commitment to mindfulness may just prevent an action that could mean legal trouble in the future.