How to Introduce Texts and Emails in Contested Custody Cases
Did you know text messages can be introduced in court? More and more Orange County, California family courts are considering incriminating texts and emails as evidence. Texts and emails as evidence seem particularly commonplace during divorce and contested child custody cases.
In today’s society, texting is a common form of communication. Millions of people use texting as their primary form of communication. It is also common for seemingly simple text messages to come back to haunt the sender when they are presented as evidence out of context. If you are involved in a contested child custody case in California, you probably want to know if text messages are a valid form of evidence. Can text messages be used in court for child custody?
Most have seen examples of text messages being introduced as evidence during celebrity divorce cases in the news. Texts from Tiger Woods to his mistress were revealed publicly during his divorce. Mayors and politicians have had their careers derailed by similar announcements of missteps. In many of these high-profile cases, text messages are introduced to the court as proof of cheating, but this isn’t the only way text messages can hurt you in court.
Texting can be used as proof that one spouse is harassing the other. When fighting for custody, texts are often sent regarding contentious issues. These can be used in court as evidence that you have anger issues; particularly when taken out of context and alongside other exhibits to build a story and prove a point against one party.
Some experts argue that personal texts as evidence constitute an invasion of privacy, but if the court deems the content of a message relevant to the case, they will usually be admitted as evidence. If your phone is part of a family account with a service provider, your spouse has the right to review your messages, but it may be considered a crime if one party tries to extract texts from a phone that does not belong to them.
For a text message to be admissible in court, you must prove who wrote/sent the message. Authentication of a text message may be more complicated than you at first assume, so it is best to consult an expert before taking any action. In some cases, cell phone records can be subpoenaed. A subpoena may be necessary for deleted messages or messages to an outside party. In this instance, it’s essential to act quickly as it is standard for cell phone service providers to limit their storage of text messages to 2-3 days.
If you have questions about when text messages can and cannot be used against you in court and what effect they could have on your Orange County, California contested child custody case, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the experienced divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm.
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