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Can Text Messages Impact My Divorce Case?

 Posted on November 10, 2017 in Divorce

Milwaukee divorce attorneys, text messages and divorce, social media and divorce, divorce process, divorce evidenceIn the 21st century, the electronic devices which we carry around in our pockets provide us with a great deal of convenience by allowing us to access information and communicate with others from nearly anywhere. However, this increased level of connectivity also comes with a price. In some cases, the messages people send on their phones may be used against them.

During a divorce, heated disputes can often arise as spouses seek to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, and child support. During this time, spouses’ actions may be closely scrutinized, and they may find that text messages sent in a moment of anger could have consequences. There are a number of ways that these types of messages could end up being part of a divorce.

Grounds for Divorce

While a spouse may feel it is necessary to obtain his or her ex’s text messages to demonstrate infidelity or otherwise show blame for the divorce, this is ultimately a pointless effort—Wisconsin is a “no fault” divorce state. In order to get a divorce in Wisconsin, it is only necessary to show that a marriage has irretrievably broken down with no reasonable chance of reconciliation. While it may be satisfying to show that the other spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, this will likely provide no legal benefit during divorce.

Evidence of Wrongdoing

While it is not necessary to prove infidelity, there are other ways that text messages could be used as evidence during a divorce, including:

  • Harassment or abuse - If one spouse threatens the other spouse in a text message, repeatedly sends messages after being asked to stop, or uses text messages in any other harassing manner, these messages could be used as evidence against that spouse in custody decisions.
  • Economic misconduct - If a spouse’s text messages show that he or she is dissipating marital assets by spending money frivolously or is gambling, these messages could be used when settling matters of property division or spousal maintenance.

Obtaining Text Messages

While a spouse’s text messages may provide useful evidence in a divorce trial, actually obtaining the messages can sometimes be difficult. A subpoena may be used to retrieve text message records from a cell phone company. However, in many cases, the actual content of text messages is not preserved. Only the date, time, and recipient of messages is maintained.

In some cases, an attorney may be able to have the sender or recipient of a text message provide a copy of the message or even produce the cell phone for inspection. In order to preserve evidence, a spouse should save screenshots or print out any relevant text messages he or she receives from his or her ex.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI, Divorce Lawyer
Whether you are considering divorce or are in the middle of the divorce process, you should take care when texting, being sure to avoid sending any messages that could be construed as abusive or harassing.

If you believe that your ex-spouse’s texts are relevant to your divorce proceedings, the skilled attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you obtain the relevant evidence and advocate for your interests in court. Contact our Milwaukee divorce attorneys today at 414-271-1440.



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