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Are emails, texts and social media posts admissible in court?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Family Law

Generally, yes. As long as they are relevant and authentic, courts will generally allow digital communications as evidence.

That means your Instagram posts could be included in your child custody case. The texts you send your ex could be used to show that you aren’t cooperating with the parenting plan. An email you sent to your best friend could be a digital smoking gun. You are also able to use digital evidence from your ex when presenting your case to the court.

It is crucial for this evidence to be relevant – “of consequence to the determination of the case.” Just because something your ex said makes you angry doesn’t mean it’s relevant to your case. Whether it is relevant depends on the context and the situation.

It is also crucial for digital evidence to be authentic, meaning you have not manipulated them or left out something that is critical. You should never edit or delete part of the evidence and should always preserve a complete copy of any digital messages that you think could be used in your case. Ideally, the evidence would have a time and date clearly visible. And, it must be clear the message came from who you say it does.

What is this evidence used to prove?

Anything related to the outcome of your case. For example, if you are trying to show that you have limited income to pay child support, your ex could present evidence of your extravagant spending. Or, if you want to show you are a stable caregiver, your ex might find a Facebook post showing you partying irresponsibly.

How do I save my digital communications?

There are a variety of techniques. Most commonly, people take screenshots. If that cannot be done in a way that preserves the evidence fully, you might consider downloading a text extractor.

If you have an iPhone, it can be somewhat challenging to download messages. You can take a screenshot and save it to your photos. Or, you can download a program that allows you to transfer data from your iPhone to a computer. Examples include EasUS MobiMover, TouchCopy, Decipher Tools, iMazing and PwrSwitch.

If you have an Android phone, you can use the SMS Backup and Restore app to download all of your data to a computer.

Should I start saving evidence now?

You should talk to your lawyer about what evidence you suspect may be available and what you hope to prove with it. At that point, your lawyer can help you decide whether to extract the evidence on your own or hire a professional to do so. You don’t want to run afoul of any privacy laws.

Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who will go the extra mile for you is important when you have a case where digital evidence plays an important role.