Keeping Text Messages for Court

Texting and Family Law

If you have been involved in a family law case (especially a custody dispute or a divorce where infidelity is an issue), your lawyer has probably talked to you about the importance of documenting everything.  I generally think, the more information you can gather, the better.  Yes, it will take some time for you or your lawyer to sort through stacks of details about your life looking for the relevant statements, dates, events, and documents.  Yes, it is a difficult way to live — cataloguing proof or otherwise documenting every little thing that happens that might have an impact on your case.  But when it comes to your property and especially your children, I like the “better safe than sorry” approach.

In some co-parenting situations, calm and effective communication can be difficult.  These parents often resolve to communicate primarily through email and text messages.  We all know how to keep an email as documentation of communication, but how do you keep a text message for use as potential evidence in court?  Here are a few options for documenting communication by text message:

  • Take screen shots of the messages:  search online to find out how to take a screen shot of exactly what appears on your particular type of phone; save the image and print it out to keep or show your lawyer;
  • SMS Backup+:  this is a free app for Android users that automatically backs up your text messages and phone log to your Gmail or Google calendar;
  • Email My Texts:  this is another Android app that costs $4.90 to download and allows you to email, print, and save all of your text messages, as well as export them to a number of other services, like Dropbox or Evernote;
  • iPhone users:  unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a reliable app to simply backup or email your iPhone texts like the Android users have; check out this article for advice on how you can keep and access the files that archive your text messages.

Unfortunately for iPhone users, it seems to be a bit more work to document text message conversations than it is for Android users.  With an important issue like custody on the line, though, it will likely be worth it.  Talk to your lawyer about what types of information and communication you should be documenting, and stay on top of it!

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