Can text messages be used against you in a divorce in Texas?
Before Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other social platforms, simple texting capabilities (aside from email) became notorious for becoming evidence in court. More specifically, in Texas divorce cases, texts became more commonly used as evidence to prove situations like infidelity, hiding what should be shared assets, abuse, and much more.
However, several theories about using texts as evidence in a divorce case in Texas include:
- It’s an invasion of privacy
- Text messages are hearsay
- There’s nothing to prove once texts are deleted
So, can text messages be used against you in a divorce in Texas?
Yes. But it’s important to know that the above includes incorrect myths made up over time that hold only partial truths to them in Texas. All of these assumptions have layers to them, which is also why it’s critical to have a strategic divorce attorney on your side.
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What You Need To Know About Text Messages Being Used Against You In A Divorce
Text messages that are sent by one spouse or another, and not from a third party, are not considered hearsay. This means they can be used in court for a divorce in Texas.
Take a look at the following examples and commonly asked questions people have about using text messages as evidence in a divorce.
Can Text Messages Be Used In Court To Prove Adultery?
Texas is a no-fault state, meaning you don’t need to prove the other party of any marital misconduct to get a divorce. However, a spouse may want to assign fault or otherwise bring certain evidence into a case for various reasons.
Infidelity is one of the most commonly cited reasons for getting a divorce in Texas.Infidelity itself is not illegal, but proving an affair can potentially give one party the upper hand in a divorce case. In fact, Texas law states, “The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse has committed adultery.”
Providing evidence of infidelity can potentially affect the way your marital estate is divided and/or enable your spouse to sue you for reimbursement of any community funds spent to maintain the affair in question. So, if your text messages prove an affair, they can be admissible as evidence against you.
Is Using Text Messages In Court An Invasion Of Privacy?
You may have purchased your phone for yourself, but it’s critical to keep in mind that any funds used to buy it are still considered marital property. Therefore, the phone is an asset now shared in your marriage. This is also true for “secret” or “private” devices that your spouse may not be aware of.
Can Screenshots Of Text Messages Be Used In Court?
Yes. Whether the text is on a printed piece of paper, in a screenshot on another device, emailed to, or sent in a chat on social media, it’s useful because it is the text itself that is being used as evidence – not the medium in which the message was sent.
What If I Deleted My Text Messages?
Deleting texts does not mean they disappear forever. Once it’s been sent, it exists in one form or another. Aside from screenshots, your spouse may also have the right to request a copy of call or text message logs from your phone service provider. These logs can include details such as the recipient’s phone number and the timestamps of each message.
To put it simply, if the texts are in your words and sent from your phone number or device, they can be used against you. A judge will not only look at these texts but also make their decision based on other presented evidence to prove you are the one who sent them.
Prepare for your divorce with strong representation. Call Daniels Law Firm to get started.
Can Text Messages Between Spouses Be Used In Court?
Yes. Again, you may contact your cell phone provider to obtain conversations on your account. Some providers may give you information as far back as a year from the date of your request.
Infidelity aside, you may need to use texts to provide evidence for other aspects of your case, such as determining terms for child custody or child support. You can also do so to gather pertinent information regarding physical or emotional abuse and/or threats rendered by your spouse.
Additional Modern Communications To Consider
Not all communications are treated the same as far as evidence goes. Privacy is still a concern if you obtain information in a way that could possibly conflict with another person’s right to privacy. And, of course, illegally obtained information may not be used. This includes hacking into social media accounts, using tracking devices without the other person’s knowledge, and wiretapping private conversations.
What To Consider Post Divorce
After your divorce is finalized, there are a few actions you can take to regain control of the various apps and accounts you might have shared access to with your now ex spouse. A few of these actions include changing your personal passwords, using a new email or account name, and using 2-factor authentication for your accounts. You can also go into many of your account settings to limit or block access for certain people.
Assuming that you’ve separated yourself from your ex spouse on your phone service provider, another action you may want to take is to wipe your devices and move forward, starting fresh.
Present Admissible Evidence In Court With An Expert Divorce Attorney
The bottom line is that you need to be able to ensure that the text messages you’ve obtained can truly be used in court. Hiring and working closely with a divorce attorney in Texas will strengthen your case and reaffirm that your strategy is sound and well thought out.
The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Daniels Law Firm or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.