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Can Email & Text Messages Be Used Against Me in Divorce Court?

In today’s hugely technologically advanced world, we all use digital forms of communication and social media to interact. This digital style has evolved over the years and become more sophisticated with additional choices, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. As these formats have been used increasingly among the population, they have also been added to the court system in terms of evidence.

This means that whatever you write to someone in a text, email, or chat across social media can come back to haunt you in a divorce court. These messages can provide documented evidence concerning your case known as Electronically Stored Information (ESI). ESI has been used in thousands of courts across the U.S. in deciding matters such as child custody and visitation, division of marital property and debts, alimony, and more. Therefore, it is vital to understand that when you are facing a divorce, you should closely monitor what you say and how you say it when communicating digitally.

Need counsel for a divorce or other family law matter in Des Moines? Contact Hope Law Firm at (515) 305-2772 to book a consultation with an attorney.

Texts & Emails Used as Evidence

When the issues involved in your divorce become contested between you and your spouse, your case must go before a judge who will hear evidence and make a decision. That evidence can now include text messages, emails, and any other type of electronic documentation that is pertinent to the issue. Your texts and emails to your spouse and vise verse then become fair game in court. They must be documented and become Electronically Stored Information. That is because you must prove that these messages were from you say they were from.

For example, authenticating a text message includes demonstrating that you own the phone where you received the text, showing the identification of who sent you the text, the date and time it was sent, and what responses were made. You would have to show the court all of the above as well as how the text message is relevant to the issue before the court. These messages may go back years and provide evidence of such misconduct as child neglect, refusing to abide by a custody ruling, harassment, verbal or emotional abuse, the hiding of marital assets, and other types of wrongdoing.

In the matter of communications between you and a third party or your spouse and a third party, these generally are not valid evidence; they are subject to privacy rights and would considered to be hearsay, as opposed to evidence.

Simple Rules for Using Digital Devices

If you are facing the breakdown of your marriage, it is best to keep some basic rules in mind when communicating with your spouse via text or email or when using social media. Keep your communications short and to the point. Avoid communicating when you are in a highly-charged emotional state. Focus only on the factual message that needs to be sent as opposed to anything that could later be used against you in court. Take a step back before you respond to a text or email before you reply and bear in mind that whatever you decide to say could have major repercussions in court.

Turn to Hope Law Firm

There is a lot to consider when it comes to texts and emails as evidence. However, you do not have to work it all out by yourself. Our firm has handled thousands of family law cases and we can provide the legal guidance you need for the matter of ESI evidence as well as any other issue. Take advantage of the legal knowledge, skills, and dedication to service that you will find at Hope Law Firm.

Reach out to us at (515) 305-2772 to speak with an attorney today.