New technology continues to change the way people live, including how they get divorced. Last week, we discussed how smart phones are increasingly being used as evidence in many family law cases in Georgia and beyond. We pointed out that a person's call history and internet search history can be used as evidence in court. However, it appears that text messages may be even more damaging.
Text messages have recently emerged as a key piece of evidence in divorce proceedings for two reasons. First, many people treat text messages as a casual form of communication. When someone is angry or upset they may send off a text message that could later be used against them. Second, text messages are written documents that become difficult to disown in court. That combination can make texts a powerful ally or a devastating foe.
However, not all text messages are admissible in court, especially a spouse's text. For example, if the text messages were accessed using a stolen password, courts may not admit them.
Likewise, if the messages were retrieved from a company phone, courts may rule them inadmissible. Because the phone is corporate property and may contain trade secrets, looking at the messages on a spouse's company phone may be illegal. Even messages from someone's own phone may not be used in court.
In order to maximize the chance of getting text messages admitted into evidence, people should leave it up to their lawyer's to retrieve them. Lawyers may subpoena a spouse's texts or even hire a professional to collect them.
Going through a divorce is never easy. However, it now appears to have become even more difficult. Those in Georgia preparing for a divorce would be wise to work with an experienced attorney who can help them get through the sometimes challenging process.
Source: NPR, "CU In Court: Texts Can Be A Divorce Lawyer's Dream," Jennifer Ludden, Feb. 23, 2012