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What Should You NOT Text During a Divorce?

8 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

Communicating with your spouse via text messaging can be dangerous, especially during a divorce. Do not text anything accusatory, inflammatory, or derogatory. These types of messages can be used against you in court if your case goes to trial. You should also be mindful of the tone of your messages, as text messages can easily be misinterpreted.

The short answer is: do not text anything that you wouldn’t want a judge to read.

If you are unsure of what is appropriate or feel overwhelmed by the divorce process, seek legal counsel immediately. A lawyer can help you decipher the right words to use in difficult conversations and provide invaluable advice to protect yourself throughout your divorce.

Find an Unbundled Lawyer in your area for a free initial consultation on handling communication in a divorce case.

Can Text Messages Be Dangerous During a Divorce?

As you navigate the complex world of divorce, it’s crucial to understand the legal implications of your text messages. These messages can often be presented as admissible evidence in court. Judges and lawyers often consider text messages as a form of documentation that can provide insight into the communication between you and your spouse.

Text messages can be used as evidence to support claims about the nature of your relationship and parties’ intentions or to contradict statements made by the other party. However, the admissibility of text messages is not absolute. In some cases, messages may be excluded if they were obtained illegally or if their authenticity cannot be verified. Nonetheless, it is best to assume that any text message you send could potentially be used in court.

Privacy Concerns and Expectations

While you may feel that your messages are private, it’s important to recognize that privacy expectations are diminished during a divorce. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse could gain access to your text messages through legal means, such as subpoenas or discovery requests. Moreover, shared devices or accounts can expose your messages to unintended recipients.

To protect your privacy, consider adopting stricter security measures, such as using unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and regularly updating your devices. Additionally, avoid discussing sensitive matters through text, as others can easily share or discover these conversations.

The Role of Electronic Communications in Evidence

Electronic communications, including text messages, emails, and social media posts, play a significant role in modern divorce proceedings. These digital records can provide valuable context and evidence, helping to support or refute claims made by either party.

For example, social media chat can be used as evidence to support allegations of adultery or domestic abuse. However, it’s important to remember that text messages and other electronic communications must meet specific standards to be considered admissible in court.

Avoiding Inflammatory Language When Texting

Divorce proceedings can be a stressful experience. Emotions can run high, leading to impulsive or nasty comments that can hurt your case or damage your relationship with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.  Using aggressive language in your text messages can harm negotiations and divorce.

Steering Clear of Personal Attacks

Insulting or belittling your soon-to-be ex can damage any remaining goodwill between you and be used against you in court, potentially affecting your case’s outcome. Even if you don’t plan to use the text messages as evidence, they can still be discovered and presented in court.

Avoid making personal attacks or disparaging remarks about your spouse when drafting your messages. Instead, focus on communicating clearly and concisely about the issues at hand. If needed, your attorney can provide further clarification if necessary. If your spouse sends you an insulting message, it is best to ignore it and avoid responding in kind. You should also refrain from deleting any messages that could potentially be used as evidence in court.

Things That Should Never Be Sent in Text Messages

Text messages should not be used to make unilateral decisions or take any legal action without consulting your attorney. Any discussion about custody arrangements, asset division, spousal support, or financial matters should occur between both parties with the help of their respective attorneys.

Financial Discussions

One critical aspect of the divorce process is the division of assets and debts. While discussing these financial matters via text message with your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be tempting, doing so can present several risks. Text messages are merely informal communications. Financial discussions and negotiations require more structure and detail.

By attempting to negotiate assets via text, you may inadvertently create confusion or misunderstandings about the terms of the agreement. Additionally, the informality of text messages may lead to incomplete or ambiguous agreements, which can result in disputes or legal challenges down the line. To avoid these complications, it’s best to keep financial discussions confined to more formal settings, such as mediation sessions, attorney meetings, or court.

Child Custody and Arrangement

Similar to financial discussions, child custody, and care arrangements should not be negotiated via text messages. The children’s best interests must remain paramount during these negotiations, and ensuring that any agreements are legally binding is vital.

Written agreements must be signed by both parents, and they should be reviewed carefully by each party’s attorney to ensure that the children’s needs are adequately addressed. Texting can be an effective way to stay in communication about your children’s needs, time-sharing, and other essential matters.

Discussing New Relationships

It’s not uncommon for individuals to seek solace in new relationships during and after the divorce process. However, discussing new partners in text messages or phone calls with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can introduce complications into an already challenging situation.

Revealing information about a new relationship may exacerbate feelings of anger, betrayal, or jealousy, leading to increased animosity between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. This heightened tension can make negotiations more difficult and prolong the divorce process.

In some cases, discussing or mentioning a new partner in a message can even lead to allegations of infidelity. Depending on your state’s laws and regulations, cheating on your spouse may be grounds for losing financial assets, child support, or visitation rights.

Self-Incrimination in a Text Message

Inaccurate statements and omissions are a common pitfall of text messages and can be used against you in court. This includes statements that may inadvertently reveal details about your finances, living arrangements, personal conduct, or other aspects of your life that could impact the outcome of your divorce.

For example, discussing plans to relocate, taking an expensive vacation, or engaging in behavior that may be perceived as irresponsible or reckless could negatively affect your case, especially regarding matters such as child custody or alimony. 

Steering Clear of Discussing Legal Strategies

Text messages are not a secure form of communication, and the content can be easily intercepted by hackers or even forwarded to other parties without your knowledge. Sharing information about your attorney’s advice, negotiation tactics, or plans for litigation can compromise the effectiveness of your legal strategy and provide your soon-to-be ex-spouse with valuable insights that they may use to their advantage.

To ensure that your legal strategy and file remain secure, limit these discussions to private conversations with your attorney. While text messages can be used to request updates or provide basic information, it’s important not to reveal any details that could weaken your case.

Navigating Social Media During Divorce Process

Social media can also be a source of enormous stress for couples going through a divorce, as the content and interactions posted by both parties can become subject to scrutiny. In addition to avoiding inflammatory posts that could weaken your case, it’s essential to be mindful of information exchanged with others about the divorce proceedings.

Any post or messages over social media can be used as evidence in court and may even become public records if they are posted on social networks or shared with third parties. To prevent these private conversations from being used against you during the divorce process, it’s best to limit communication with a trusted friend or family member about the proceedings and avoid posting any details that could be used as evidence.

Additionally, venting about your divorce or making disparaging remarks about your soon-to-be ex-spouse on social media can escalate tensions and make it more challenging to reach an amicable resolution. 

Consult with an Unbundled Attorney Before Taking Action

Text messages can be an important source of evidence in divorce proceedings and should be treated as such. To protect yourself, avoid discussing sensitive matters through text messages and remain mindful of your language when communicating with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

If you need help navigating your divorce, a family law attorney can provide the legal guidance you need. An Unbundled Lawyer is like a traditional lawyer, but you can pick which part of your case you’d like them to handle and what you’ll do on your own. With our network of Unbundled Attorneys, you have the flexibility to select the services that best fit your needs and pay for only those services. Furthermore, Unbundled Attorneys are usually more affordable than typical attorneys. 

Contact an Unbundled Attorney in your area today to get the legal help you need.

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