Be Careful What You Text the Other Party
Texting, that is, sending messages to another person’s phone, has become a way of communication for many people. It is much like writing a letter, except the information is immediately sent and received. In most circumstances,a person simply enjoys the message and responds if appropriate. However, there are times when a person must be very careful about what they send as a text message. And one of these times is when a party is going through a dissolution of marriage (divorce).Each state has its rules regarding text messagesthat can or cannot be used as evidence during a divorce case. This blog will focus on Florida.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that a divorce can be granted for no reason other than a party wants one. Additionally, in Florida, only one party can want the divorce for no reason, and it will be granted once the proper paperwork is filed, the legal process completed, and the fees paid. When the legal processconsists +of a non-contested divorce proceeding, there will be no need for evidence or testimony. However, in a contested divorce, there is often a long, drawn-out litigation where evidence of different kinds will be used. In Florida, the use of text messages as well as social media posts and other electronic records can be used as evidence.For this reason, it is important to be careful about what text message you send to the other party.
Even in a no-fault state such as Florida, the use of evidence proving an affair such as a text talking about going on a vacation and then possibly a follow-up on social media of pictures along with the money spent as evidenced on credit card statements can influence a judge when setting alimony. If marital money was used to wine and dine a paramour, the offender might find themselves paying some of this back through increased alimony.
Another caution when it comes to text messages is name-calling and threats of any kind, especially of doing harm to the party or threatening to take the minor children away or unduly influencing them against the other parent. Bragging about acquiring expensive items such as a boat, new car, high-end electronics, or jewelry is also not a good idea.
While it is true text messages can be admissible as evidence in a divorce case, certain criteria must be met to use the texts.
- Texts cannot be obtained by hacking or illegal methods. Phone companies cannot release text messages without the permission of the owner of the phone.
- The texts must prove the truthof what is being said, such as a party purchasing a new sound system or borrowing a specific amount of money. To use a text message to prove the party was using their phone on a certain day, for example, would not be accepted.
- Hearsay is not usually admissible, but there are exceptions, so be sure to have an attorney check texts you think might be accepted
- The text message must be authenticated as to who sent and who received it.The message itself must be explainedby the person who sent or received it or by someone who saw the text being sent or received.
As with so many of the recent changes in divorce law, it is wise to use the professional services of a Family Law attorney.If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St Lucie, Miami Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough Counties in Florida or in New York or Washington DC,Attorney Grant Gisondo is board-certified in Marital and Family Law and can represent you. He will know the latest divorce laws and rules and can share general information during a free, initial, in-office consultation. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The phone number to call for an appointment is (561)530-4568.