Can Text Messages In a Child Custody Battle?


Evansville Child Custody | Family Law | Can text messages be used in a child custody battle?

In recent times, text messages being used as evidence in cases have made headlines in the United States.  

We all know that texting can get you in trouble, even if it doesn't involve anything as severe as an affair or something along those lines.  

Text messages can be used to show that one parent is harassing the other.

Perhaps you are, have been, or are soon to be in a custody battle for your children and end up sending the other parent an angry text about an issue.  If so, it could be used in court as evidence to show that you have a problem controlling your anger and temper.

Used alone, a text may not be the strongest piece of evidence... But if the text is used along with other strong evidence, it can carry much more weight.  

Just never forget, the other parent and their attorney are going to be looking for any bit of evidence that they can use to portray you in a negative light.

If one single text is taken out of context, it can be easily interpreted differently than you intended.  So make sure that you are always extremely careful in the wording of any messages that you send to ANYONE. 

There have been some legal experts have argued in court that using text messages is an invasion of privacy.  But, if the courts rule that these messages are relevant in your case, they will more than likely be allowed to be submitted as evidence.

Also, if your phone is part of a family plan, then your ex has every right to see the text messages.  However, with text message laws, it could be illegal to try to get texts off of a phone that does not belong to you.  Laws are still continually trying to catch up to technology and how it is advancing.  

Furthermore, for the text messages to be admissible in a court, you must be able to prove who wrote and sent the text.  This can prove to be difficult when trying to authenticate the text messages.

Can Text Messages Be Subpoenaed for Court?

Once you and your attorney have figured out which texts are useable in court, the messages will need to be documented and printed out.  The text messages that are going to be used as evidence should include the time, date, and contact information for the other person in the conversation.

As stated above, using text messages is still a legal gray area.  And, the laws are different state to state.  This makes it very important that you consult with your attorney to determine if you can use the text messages, or if they need to subpoenaed.

If you are the recipient of the text messages, you can print the entire conversation to submit as evidence in most cases.  But, if some of the texts have been deleted or sent to someone else, your attorney may still need to subpoena them.

Do Judges Allow Text Messages in Court?

In a lot of courts and states, judges can be very hesitant about allowing texts.  Yet, other judges may use them as useful evidence that show the parents' actual intentions, behaviors, and character outside of the court room.

A judge will usually never allow text messages or other means of communication if they were obtained illegally.  For instance, if you illegally gained access to the other parents cell phone records or asked your child to get text messages for you on visitation, they will not be allowed to be used as evidence in your custody case.  Along with that, the attempt to illegally gain access to these things could definitely be used against you.

So, to be able to use text messages in court as evidence, you must be able to prove:

1. That the writer of the text message was the other parent

2. The text messages were obtained legally

Need something to help you document Text Messages?  Use All of It Custody Binder!

Could Your Texts Be Used Against You?

As stated before, yes.  A text message that you send could be used against you.  Be sure to avoid sending any text messages out of anger, hurt, frustration, or in any other negative way.  Text messages like that could paint you as the "bad parent."

Need something to help you document Text Messages?  Use All of It Custody Binder!

Can Emails and Social Media be Used in Court?

Most of the same guidelines for text messages can be also applied to emails.  If emails were obtained in a legal manner, there is a chance they will be allowed as evidence for your custody case.

It is important to remember that even if you delete a conversation, or block a person, they could still have copies of the messages that you sent.  And, never forget that any social media post you make can be shared with anyone.  Even if you posted it as private, someone could still see it and share it with other people.

If you now regret sending a text message, email, or posting something on social media, it is best to let your attorney know as soon as possible.  Your attorney will be able to give you advice about how to handle it and work on keeping that regretted message or post out of the custody case.

Need something to help you document Text Messages?  Use All of It Custody Binder!

Things to Remember

It is important to keep in mind that people are texting more than talking to each other.  The average adult in the United States spends about 23 hours a week texting.

Anything that you do online or on the phone is stored in a database and can be accessed at anytime.  Even if you delete the messages.  Therefore, it is so important that you do not say or do anything that could be incriminating or harmful to your child custody case.  It can, and it will be used against you.

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