Can Text & Email Messages Be Shared in Divorce Court?

Can the Content of Text Messages Be Used in Divorce?  

Yes. In today's digital age, the role of electronic communication, such as text and email messages, has become increasingly significant in legal proceedings. This is especially true in divorce courts, where these messages can serve as crucial pieces of evidence. 

Text and email messages have emerged as a new form of evidence in divorce cases because they can capture real-time communication between spouses. They may reveal important information about a spouse’s behavior, intentions, or state of mind, which can be relevant to various aspects of a divorce proceeding, such as child custody, division of assets, alimony, and more. 

Commonly used messages in these situations include those that show infidelity, domestic abuse, financial mismanagement, neglect of parental responsibilities, or any other misconduct that could affect the court’s decisions. Either party may use messages sent between spouses or between others to prove  

However, they must meet certain criteria to be admissible in court. For instance, they must be relevant to the case, authentic (i.e., not fake or altered), and not violate privacy laws or the rules of evidence. 

How Messages Are Authenticated  

Authentication is the process of proving that a piece of evidence is what it purports to be. For electronic messages, this involves verifying their source and integrity. This can be done through various means, including:  

  • Direct evidence. The person who created or received the message can testify that it is authentic. 

  • Circumstantial evidence. Characteristics of the message, such as its content, style, or metadata, can be used to infer its authenticity. 

  • Digital forensics. Experts can examine the digital trail left by the message to confirm its origin and integrity. 

Admissibility of Text & Email Communications  

Even if text or email messages are proven to be authentic, they must meet other requirements to be considered admissible to the court. The messages must also be legally obtained. Thus, the messages should be obtained through the discovery process or a subpoena, a legal document ordering a person or entity to produce documents or testify in a case.  

In some cases, a spouse may be tempted to search their spouse’s phone to discover messages themselves. However, extracting messages yourself can be a slippery slope, as you can face consequences if the phone does not belong to you or you use spyware to obtain the messages.  

Pros & Cons of Using Texts & Emails in Your Divorce Case 

As we mentioned, using text messages in divorce cases has become increasingly popular. Some of the benefits of using text and email messages include:  

  • Texts and emails can provide indisputable proof of harmful behaviors or actions. If the other party makes threats, manipulates, or does other inappropriate things via text message, it can be used as evidence in court. 

  • These messages can serve as a written record of conversations, agreements, or disputes between spouses. To prove that a spouse agreed to a certain promise or arrangement, text messages may be presented as evidence. 

  • These messages can reveal a person's thoughts, emotions, and intentions at a specific point in time. Having these messages can help you get the upper hand in settlement negotiations or in court and/or prove the other party is acting in bad faith.  

Using text and email messages can be complicated and may not help your case because of the following concerns:  

  • Message manipulation. Electronic messages can be altered or fabricated. Overcoming this requires careful examination of the messages and possibly the use of digital forensics. 

  • Privacy concerns. Unauthorized access to messages can lead to their inadmissibility. It's crucial to obtain messages through legal means. 

  • Volume of messages. The sheer amount of electronic communication can be overwhelming. It is essential to focus on the messages that are most relevant to the case. 

Tips on Preserving & Presenting Messages 

To ensure that your text and email messages can be used as evidence, it is important to preserve them properly. This includes saving all relevant messages, backing them up in a secure location, and refraining from altering them in any way. When presenting these messages in court, it is advisable to provide full context and avoid cherry-picking specific messages. 

Experienced Divorce Attorneys  

Whether you are worried about messages being used against you or have questions about whether messages your ex sent can be used in court, the divorce attorneys at Kallen Law Firm, LLC can help you. We understand how taxing a divorce case can be on your emotional and financial health, which is why we are committed to offering clients straightforward, reliable counsel.  

Once you retain our services, our team can advise you on the potential impact messages you’ve sent via text, email, or online might be used in negotiations or court. We can also help you collect evidence to bolster your case.  

Learn more about how our attorneys can protect your rights and interests during divorce by calling (314) 441-7793.