Dallas, TX asked in Divorce and Family Law for Texas

Q: Seeking text messages and social media messages in divorce case - Are screenshots sufficient?

Since my wife filed for divorce earlier this year, for now I am currently representing myself in my divorce case as I am working hard to save up enough money to hire an attorney, hopefully next month.

During this time, I am conducting basic discovery to gather evidence related to my wife's affair and potential misuse of our marital funds. Specifically, she claimed work-related trips last year to Hawaii, LA, Chicago, and Tallahassee, but I later discovered charges on our joint bank account statements that suggest otherwise. I suspect that there may be text messages and social media messages between her and the person involved that could provide further evidence.

My question is, can I request just screenshots of these messages or is there a better/specific format I need to receive these in?

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: It is typical to use as evidence a printout of an entire thread of text or SMS messages between two parties so that the entire context of the conversation can be viewed. The printout usually has different colored bubbles for each participant with the date and time of each message and the phone numbers of each participant. That common format is most likely what a court will want to see.

Individual screenshots can be used for emphasis but you risk them being excluded for spoliation if you don’t make the entire text conversation available in discovery.

Technologically, I’m uncertain how the standard format is accomplished. I just know my paralegal can take a client’s phone and five minutes later, the entire text conversation is saved in the file on our computer system—sometimes hundreds of pages long. She says iPhones are much easier than Androids.

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