Can Text Messages Be Used in a Divorce?

Can Text Messages Be Used in a Divorce?

Sometimes both parties agree to file for divorce and can agree on all aspects of divorce, including time-sharing and division of assets. However, some divorces are contentious, and the parties can barely speak to each other, never mind agreeing on everything. One spouse might be so upset over the other spouse’s behavior that he or she wants nothing to do with that person. In some cases, you might have to prove that your spouse’s behavior is the reason for divorce. In most cases, it ends up being your word against your spouse’s unless you can find proof. Can text messages be used in a divorce to prove infidelity or other behavior?

Can My Texts Be Used Against Me in a Divorce?

The short answer is “Yes.” The court usually allows the person receiving the text to testify that he or she recognizes the phone number the text was sent from. The court might also ask about the sender’s identity and the context of the message. If you need to use a text as evidence in a Missouri divorce case, you should obtain a transcript of the texts or messages regarding the subject matter.

If you are not able to obtain a transcript, the court will allow the cell phones to be admitted into evidence. Additionally, the attorneys can cross-examine the sender of the message. Thus, if your spouse sends you a particularly nasty or threatening text, it is best not to respond to it, as tempting as it might be.

Can Social Media Posts Be Used in a Divorce?

As with text messages, the court will allow social media posts as evidence in Missouri divorce cases. Keep in mind that this means not only the social media posts on your timeline/page, but also public comments on others’ pages and timelines. While it is very tempting to carry a fight into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms or brag about events during the divorce proceedings, it would be a mistake, as your spouse could introduce these posts as evidence in your divorce trial.

What to Do after Receiving Threatening Messages from Your Spouse or Ex-Spouse

If you see threatening or bragging posts from your spouse on social media or via text message, the best thing you can do is ignore them since your spouse can use your responses to texts and social media against you.

When you receive messages, comments and posts that threaten or brag, print them out for your attorney. If you cannot figure out how to print text messages, call your cell phone provider for instructions. It can tell you how to save/store and print messages.

Finally, send the hard copies of the text messages and social media posts to your attorney. He will advise you of what to do regarding the messages. Depending on the type of message, you could ask that the court take action on your spouse’s behavior.

When Neither Party Has Filed for Divorce, But You Might Consider Filing

You might have thought your spouse was happy until you ran across messages or social media posts that caused you to believe otherwise. No matter how much the texts or other messages get your ire up, do not respond – do not even mention them.

Stop and think about the messages and whether you should try to work things out by having a conversation or seeing a marriage counselor, or whether you want to file for divorce. If you decide to see a marriage counselor, you can use the texts and messages during counseling. Otherwise, print them out for your attorney without saying anything to your spouse about them.

Depending on how you want to handle the divorce, you could use the text messages as evidence for a divorce – and if you respond, your spouse can also use your messages against you. Divorcing is a life-changing decision, so you definitely do not want to “blow your top” and respond to the messages or call your spouse out on them.

How Text Messages Could Affect a Divorce

If both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the actions or inactions of either party might have less effect on the divorce process than if one of the parties makes certain allegations and denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Your spouse could use texts and social media against you in certain situations, including but not limited to:

  • When one spouse commits adultery
  • A spouse’s behavior is atrocious enough so that the spouse cannot be reasonably expected to live in such a situation
  • Abandonment.

If a spouse requests spousal support – alimony or palimony – the court could consider adultery, behavior, and abandonment when determining the award.

Additionally, if the court believes any of these behaviors are not in the best interests of the children, it could consider the above-mentioned behaviors in determining time-sharing, including custody and visitation.

If you expect to win custody of your children, you must show that you always act in their best interests. The court has the authority to determine a visitation schedule for both parents. It can also require supervised visitation if it believes your behavior as shown through texts and social media has not been conducive to the child’s interests.

Contact a Missouri Divorce Attorney

If you are ready to file for divorce or your spouse has already served you with divorce papers, contact a family law attorney at Birk Law Firm for a consultation by calling (573) 332-8585 or visiting our website.