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Man found not guilty after confiscating his child's iPhone

A kid's device habits and ownership became a thorny legal issue for an ex-couple.

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Oli Scarff/Getty Images

You can safely say that you have control over your kids' devices when you're living with them, but it's trickier if you split up with your partner and share custody -- and one former couple just learned this the hard way. A Dallas judge has found Ronald Jackson not guilty of a theft charge filed after he took his daughter's iPhone 4S (bought by his ex-partner, Michelle Steppe) as punishment for a rude phone message and refused to give it back. There just wasn't enough evidence to pursue the case, the judge said.

Suffice it to say that Steppe doesn't agree with the ruling. While she accepts that Jackson had the authority to confiscate the phone while his daughter was visiting, she believes that power ended the moment his daughter left his custody. This wasn't Jackson's property to keep, Steppe argues, even if it did teach the child a lesson about etiquette. However you see the case, it's clear that you're kicking a hornet's nest the moment you decide that policing your kid's device use trumps questions of ownership.

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