Are Text Messages Reliable Evidence in Family Court?
Feb. 7, 2023
In a family law issue – such as divorce, property division, or child support – text messages may be used to establish the occurrence of certain events or show character traits and behavior patterns. However, there are specific rules addressing how text messages may be admitted as evidence in a family law or divorce case. An experienced California family law attorney can help you understand the procedure for authenticating text messages as evidence in family court.
Attorney Karen S. Brown has the diligence and expertise to advise and guide clients in the legal matters of divorce and family law. Karen is available to discuss your specific circumstances and explore the possibility of using text messages as evidence to support your claim or bolster your case. The firm proudly serves clients across Los Angeles County, Orange County, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Ventura County, California.
Can a Text Message Be Used in Family Court?
Text messages are electronic communication received or sent through mobile phones. Under California law, text messages are admissible as evidence in family court proceedings. When presented as evidence, a text message can help support your case or establish accusations of domestic violence, extramarital affairs, child abuse, or financial infidelity.
However, using a text message as evidence in a family court proceeding requires authentication. Once authenticated, they become admissible and may be presented as evidence to support your family law case. An experienced lawyer can enlighten you about the rules for the authentication of text messages in a California family law case.
Authentication of Text Messages
In order to authenticate a text message, it must meet the following requirements:
The other party sent or admitted to sending the message.
A witness saw the person creating and sending the message.
The context of the text message indicates that it was a response or reply to an original message.
Only the sender knew the subject that was referenced by the text message.
A seasoned divorce lawyer can examine the text messages, determine if they’re relevant, and can be authenticated to support your family law battle.
Are the Text Messages Relevant?
Additionally, any evidence you’re presenting in your family law or divorce case must be relevant to the case. For example, since California is a no-fault divorce state, a text message about desertion may not be relevant to get a divorce.
Messages from a Third-Party
Furthermore, only text messages between the two parties involved in the divorce are admissible in court. If you received the text from a third party, such as your neighbor or friend, it might not be admissible in court.
Generally, text messages from third parties are classified as “hearsay.” Hence, text messages received from your neighbor claiming they saw your spouse with their mistress may be dismissed if you present it as proof of adultery in your divorce case. Though, the judge may admit the text provided that your neighbor agrees to testify in court under oath.
Be Mindful of What YOU Share/Say via Text
When involved in a contentious family law issue, emotions often run high. Anything you do, say, or share may be considered hurtful to the other party. Even the most harmless text may be interpreted wrongly and used against you in your case. Therefore, you need to remain cautious of what you say or share. Moreover, you may be unable to completely erase or retract the text once you send it.
Also, do not fall victim to sharing, sending, or saying anything that may be used against you to your estranged partner. Remember, just like you can use a text message against your estranged spouse in court, they can also use it against you. Hence, be mindful of the text messages you send and do not use any language that might be taken out of context or interpreted wrongfully.
Speak With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Text messages are among the pieces of evidence that are admissible in a California divorce case. However, it is important that you understand the rules addressing the admissibility and authentication of text messages before presenting them in your legal proceeding. The Law Office of Karen S. Brown is dedicated to helping clients achieve the best available outcome in their divorce, child custody, and family law matters.
As your legal team, Attorney Karen S. Brown can review every surrounding detail of your case and determine the best way to use text messages to support your claims or protect yourself. In addition, Attorney Karen S. Brown will fight diligently to protect your legal rights, family’s best interests, and your future, and help make your transition as seamless as possible.
Contact the Law Office of Karen S. Brown today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a practiced divorce lawyer. Attorney Karen S. Brown has the clear legal guidance and reliable advocacy you need in your family law battle. The firm proudly serves clients across Los Angeles County, Orange County, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Ventura County, California.