Text messages as evidence in divorce
How often do people take screenshots of text messages and share them among one another? We see text conversations on Facebook from time to time and some of them appear as Video GIFs. Should we be surprised the same thing happens in divorce and family law? People find out about other’s text conversations in all kinds of ways. A spouse reviewing the monthly cell phone bill might notice an increase in the number of texts on the family plan or a strange phone number that keeps appearing.
At the beginning of the divorce some attorneys send notices to their opposing counsel to preserve their party’s text messages and other communications that may be requested in the divorce. In Texas divorce cases the initial Standing Orders that apply at the beginning of a divorce may apply to text messages and the order not to delete or alter electronic records.
How do you acquire another person’s text messages?
There’s nothing like texting the wrong person to blow the cover on an extramarital affair. When the slip gets back to the divorcing spouse, their lawyer might send a subpoena to the individual’s phone provider. If the person who sent or received the texts is willing to help you and offers, they can submit and affidavit or testify as a witness in a deposition or hearing.
Alternatively, if there are specific text conversations at issue, your Plano, Texas divorce attorney can send a discovery demand to the other party to produce the remaining text messages. If they refuse, the court could order them to produce the messages. Remember, however, a sender may have gone to great lengths to delete their messages and make their phone or device unavailable.
Text messages are admissible evidence
When you can prove the author, text messages are admissible evidence, so long as they can be accurately authenticated, like one would do with other offers of evidence. When the texts are produced through a subpoena, the produced documents help prove the authenticity of the texts.
What a text message means and how it may be relevant are both admissibility questions when offering text messages as evidence in divorce court. Another key question is how the text message evidence was obtained; if someone extracted the text without permission it could be thrown out. Note that accessing another’s device without their consent can trigger additional legal problems.
The Plano, Texas divorce lawyers at Scroggins Legal can answer your specific questions and provide additional information about text messages and your divorce.