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Are Text Messages Reliable Evidence in Family Court?

The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer Jan. 24, 2023

Divorce, asset division, and child support matters are sensitive issues that are often fiercely contested. In these family law cases, either party will go to any length to protect their best interests. Essentially, a claim made by one party may affect the outcome of the assets division, child custody, or support arrangement in a divorce case. An experienced California family law attorney can enlighten you about the reliability of text messages as evidence in family court. 

At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we’re dedicated to helping clients achieve the most favorable outcome in their divorce and family law battles. As your legal counsel, we can evaluate all of the facts of your unique situation and help determine whether you can use text messages as evidence in your case.  

Our team will fight vigorously to protect your family’s rights and future. We’re proud to serve clients across San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Fremont, California. 

Can a Text Message Be Used in Family Court?  

According to California law, text messages can be considered as evidence in family court proceedings. These text messages can be used as proof or facts to establish allegations of adultery, financial infidelity, domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or other threatening behavior. 

Furthermore, where text messages are admissible, they can be presented as direct evidence or circumstantial evidence. However, such text messages must be authenticated to be used as evidence in your case. 

Authentication of Text Messages 

For a text message to be authenticated, it must meet the following requirements: 

  • The other person must have sent or admitted to sending the message. 

  • A witness saw the person create and send the message. 

  • The context of the message shows that it is a reply or response to an original message. 

  • The text message referenced a subject that only the person would know about. 

Our trusted California divorce attorneys can review the text messages in question, determine whether they’re relevant to your unique situation and if you can authenticate them to use in your divorce case. 

Are the Text Messages Relevant? 

In addition to authentication, any evidence that you want to use in your divorce must be relevant to your case. For instance, in a no-fault divorce state like California, text messages about cheating may not likely be relevant when seeking a divorce. 

Messages from a Third-Party 

Essentially, only text messages between the divorcing spouses are admissible in California divorce court. However, there are cases where relevant text messages were received from a third party, such as a friend or close relative.  

Depending on the circumstances, a text from another person may not be admissible in court. Texts from third parties may be categorized as “hearsay.” For instance, a judge may dismiss a text message from a friend informing you that they saw your partner with their lover unless the friend agrees to testify under oath in court. 

Be Mindful of What YOU Share/Say via Text 

Once you send a text message, retracting or erasing it may be difficult. Even after deleting the text at your end, the other party might still have it. Moreover, just as you can use text messages against someone in court, they can also use them against you. 

Therefore, it is crucial that you remain mindful of what you say or share, especially when amidst a contested divorce battle. Anything you share or say to your estranged spouse may be used against you. Above all, avoid using any language that could be misinterpreted or taken out of context. This is the best way to remain safe and avoid incriminating yourself. 

Speak With an Experienced Family Law Attorney  

Digital devices are among the admissible evidence in California family court proceedings. However, presenting text messages as evidence during the legal proceeding can work for or against you. Therefore, working with a highly-skilled family law attorney is crucial for detailed guidance and to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself. 

At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, our attorneys are poised and ready to advise and guide individuals and families through the complexities of divorce proceedings. Whether you have questions about using text messages as evidence in your family law case or seek to protect yourself from your estranged partner who may use past text conversations against you, we can offer you the experienced guidance and skilled representation you need. 

Contact us at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer today to schedule a simple consultation with trusted divorce attorneys. We proudly serve individuals and families across San Jose, Hayworth, Morgan Hill, Fremont, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County, California.