Electronic messages, such as text messages or emails, can be used as evidence during divorce hearings. However, there are measures you need to take to get such evidence admissible in court. Here are three examples of these key measures:
Be Able To Authenticate the Message
First, you must be able to prove that the person you are accusing actually sent the texts or emails; this is known as authentication. Other than the person admitting that they sent the texts, a witness who saw the creation of the message can also help authenticate it. Proving that a message originated from a device (such as a tablet, computer or smartphone) under the control of the defendant may give you circumstantial evidence for authenticating the message. In most cases, you will not have a problem with message authentication if it was sent as a reply to your message or email.
Save the Entire Message
You ought to save the entire message, and not just the incriminating bit you want to use as evidence. This is necessary to prove to the court that you did not edit or manipulate the message in any way; manipulation or editing can easily change the meaning of a message. If it was a chat or a back-and-forth communication, save the messages you sent to the other party too; those will provide the context of your communication.
Consider an example where you text your ex-spouse with a request to allow to you take the kids for an out-of-state vacation. If they text back a refusal and threatening you with parental kidnapping charges, you should save both your text initial text and the replying text. Send the conversation to your email or back it up in the cloud to avoid losing it.
Acquire the Messages in a Legal Manner
If the messages were not sent directly to you, then you should be careful on how you obtain them. Take an example where one of your family friends receives a text detailing your spouse's infidelity. In such a case, you can't just grab your friend's phone and present it in court as evidence; that would be illegal. If the friend doesn't voluntarily give up the information or device, your attorney may have to subpoena them for the evidence.
Therefore, it's best to consult a family attorney before attempting to use text messages as evidence in family court. The court may rebuff your attempts if you go about it the wrong way. Contact an attorney like Diane Dramko, Attorney At Law to learn more.