Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Fake Facebook Page in an Indiana Child Custody Battle

I have previously written about FaceBook in the context of overall social networking sites and about Social Networking sites making their way into the Courtroom. Now there is another twist to the FaceBook phenomena and child custody battles.

This time it was an Indiana woman who created a fake Facebook profile to get information from her ex-husband to use in a custody battle. Her unscrupulous act backfired on her when the father discerned the motivations of the person behind the fake profile.

The father, David Voelkert, was arrested by FBI agents on June 3 for allegedly installing a listening device in his wife’s vehicle. However, it turns out that it was just a ruse to expose the wife.

In late May 2011 the 29-year-old ex-wife, Angela Voelkert, using a fake Facebook page under the pseudonym “Jessica Studebaker” spied on her ex-husband through the site. Angela was purported to be a young girl who attended high school and worked at Subway when she contacted David. Even though Angela had a friend write the introductory message to David he still caught on as to what it was – an attempt by his wife to engage him in conversation and collect information for the custody battle.

David told “Studebaker” that he was planning to kill his wife and escape with his children and that he had installed a listening device in her car. David duly documented the ruse by having a letter notarized about a week before the messages were sent. He stated, “I am lying to this person to gain positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life. In no way do I have plans to leave with my children or do any harm to Angela Dawn Voelkert or anyone else.” After FBI agents interviewed the bank worker who notarized the letter David Voelkert was released.

This is one of those types of incidents that will not gain one favour with a judge during a child custody proceeding. Indiana Code 31-17-2-8 does provide for the 8 factors that a court must consider in an initial child custody decision or modification. Of those is the mental health of the parents and a pattern of domestic violence which has been broadly defined to include stalking or cyber-stalking.

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©2008, 2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

1 comment:

Chastity Bruner said...

You are giving false hope to alot of desperate parents w/ this site. I dont agree w/ the blog pots I respectfully disagree that you are any more experienced in these issues than the parents themselves who are in that situation. I would've done the same if I needed information and father wouldn't communicate. Mothers become desperate when they are GOOD mothers who love their children. How can you say mental health was an issue? Was this person evaluated or is this more minutia ?