text messages

Text Messages as Evidence

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A text from an ex

December 3, 2012 marked twenty years of text messaging.  Text messages (or SMS, aka Short Messaging Service) have come a long way from the first SMS sent in 1992. Neil Papworth used the Vodafone GSM network to send “Merry Christmas” from a personal computer to Richard Jarvis on his Orbitel 901 handset. Since that holiday greeting, text messaging has become deeply embedded as a communication tool.

Texting’s popularity has driven the medium into the spotlight and the courtroom. Admissible as evidence, texts are frequently used in divorce and child custody cases.  Texts, emails and social media posts can add credibility and support the facts of your case. Documented communication is helpful for providing snapshots of day-to-day interactions of involved parties.

Having transcripts of texts, emails and social media is advantageous, but to secure the most favorable outcome in your custody or divorce case you will need more than supportive evidence. Having a well-crafted strategy is essential for making the most of your evidence.

An experienced family law attorney can provide you guidance on creating a divorce or custody strategy and will advise you on how to collect and use documented communication to protect your rights as a man.
If you feel that documenting communication would be helpful to your case, there are a few things you can do to collect and organize emails, texts and social media posts.

  • Emails – can be saved as PDFs or any other digital format. It is best to save these documents on a USB drive or a location that you ex doesn’t have access to.
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) can be captured  by taking a screenshot. To capture a screenshot on a PC use the “PrtScn” button or the Snipping Tool. For screen shots on a Mac use command, shift, and 3.

Once you have saved the communication, it is helpful to give each document a descriptive name and date. This will make finding a specific email or screenshot easier as your case progresses. Some examples of descriptive file names:

01-07-13 late mortgage payment notice

01-07-13 Kathy – Jon – daycare schedule

Be consistent with how you format your file names. They will be easier to find and organize if there is uniformity. To achieve this start each filename with the date listed in numbers —using 01-07-13 instead of Jan 7, 2013. Then choose a few words that summarize the communication.

Text messages have evolved from a long history of human communication. If you are curious about the origins of the SMS, check out the infographic detailing the evolution from smoke signals to the texting messaging we use today. And, if you have questions about text messages, emails and social media as evidence in your Portland divorce or child custody case, give us a call. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, will answer you questions over the phone at no charge and no obligation.

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