Crofton, MD asked in Child Custody, Education Law and Internet Law for Maryland

Q: Can I seek financial retribution from child academy for forwarding emails to other parent in custody battle situation?

The other parent and I were recently in a custody battle. While my child was at this daycare/center academy, the facility forwarded my emails asking about my child's progress and wellbeing to the other parent. They then used those emails as evidence against me in court (nothing negative was sent, only questions and clarifications), potentially contributing to me losing legal my case. Am I able to sue the center to recover my attorney's fees and those I now have to owe to the other parent? An employee at the center also volunteered to be a witness on the other parent's side.

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Unless you had sole legal custody at the time your child was in daycare and the emails were sent, or there was some contractual agreement covering confidentiality of communications, both parents would have access to their child's records at daycare. Even then, that would not prohibit an opposing party from presenting such evidence at trial. Your emails would be part of your child's daycare file. There is also no expectation of privacy in emails you send to others, which grants you a right to prohibit the recipient from sharing those emails with someobdy else. You therefore have no claim against the daycare facility for sharing your emails, nor would you have any civil right to damages against someone who testifies at a trial to matters within their personal knowledge unless there was a recognized legal privilege protecting your communications with that person, such as a patient-psychiatrist relationship, and even then there are exceptions to your invoking your privilege. In order to assert such a privilege, you must do so at the trial where the testimony is presented, and get a judge to rule in your favor. If you failed to object at trial, or your objection was overruled, then the witness and their employer would have no liability for providing testimony the judge allowed. There is no recognized legal privilege between a parent and their child's daycare provider, so even had you objected, you would not have prevailed in keeping the testimony out. Any litigant can subpoena or call any witness who can testify as to facts relevant in a case. They cannot be held liable simply for doing so. Any lawsuit you would file would be summarily dismissed as without merit, and potentially result in sanctions for being a frivolous lawsuit.

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