Can Text Messages Be Used in Divorce Court?
Yes, your text messages can be used as evidence in divorce court. Just like “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” in criminal cases, anything you write down can be read out loud and misinterpreted in divorce court. As a rule of thumb, do not write anything down – online or in text messages – that you would not want the judge to hear during your divorce proceedings.
Texts to Your Spouse
If you send a heated text to your spouse, know that your spouse may screenshot the message and share it with their attorney. Even if your message is well-meaning, it could be read out of context and presented as evidence of anger issues or an unwillingness to cooperate.
“Spontaneous venting,” as Reuters calls it, could provide written records of your thoughts, actions, and intentions.
Texts to Others
Similarly, The New York Times calls text messages “digital lipstick on the collar” in divorce cases that involve cheating. Although Maryland offers a no-fault option for divorce, spouses may file on grounds of adultery, and a fault-based divorce action could impact alimony, a marital property award, and other aspects of your case.
Be careful when texting about financial information, as well, as a text or email about a new job, a company-wide bonus, or a vacation could derail your claim for alimony or child support.
As HuffPost emphasizes:
“If you wouldn't want a judge reading it, don't write it - anywhere.”
Text Message Evidence Is on the Rise
According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 92% of lawyers have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence from smartphones, and 94% said they have seen an increase in the use of text messages specifically.
The AAML president explains:
“Basically, having evidence in writing is always the most effective proof in demonstrating that someone is being dishonest, contradictory, and lacks credibility.”
Without credibility, the judge may undervalue your opinion on what’s best for your children or how much marital property you should receive.
During your divorce, you should be extremely careful about what you send via email or text message. Our team at Matthew Penick Law also recommends taking a break from social media.
If you need to vent, schedule a private phone call or in-person meeting with trusted friends or family members.
For more information about protecting your rights and best interests during a divorce, call Matthew Penick at (410) 618-0863 or contact our firm online for a free initial consultation and a personalized, client-centered approach!