My daughter's father has petitioned the court for custody modification and is using text messages he downloaded against me. The text messages in question were not sent to him but, rather, were conversations that I had with other people. conversations that I would have with my girlfriends, boyfriends etc. He went back as far as two years ago.

In addition he made the statement that they are real time. I sat there while his attorney read them out loud. None were real time nor was there any time or date stamp on them.

I have friends that are horrified that their conversations are out there. There is nothing illegal in the text messages - just private conversations. And of course some steamy conversations.

Does he have the right to use them against me? Am i protected by the privacy law? Are the admissible in court?

  • 1
    What did your attorney say about the messages? Aug 1, 2019 at 22:15
  • 6
    What jurisdiction is this? I.e. what country and body of law? (e.g. if US which state). Which privacy law (or do you mean privacy law in general)? Do you know how he obtained said text messages, if they were not sent to him? What do you (and your daughter's father) mean by "real time"?
    – sharur
    Aug 1, 2019 at 22:52
  • 3
    Yes. Your text messages can be used against you in court. Privacy law does not protect you unless you are making a confidential communication, for example, to your attorney, your spouse or your clergyperson taking your confession.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 2, 2019 at 14:30
  • 1
    How did he obtain the messages? Were they downloaded lawfully?
    – Consis
    Aug 4, 2019 at 3:16

2 Answers 2


Any written communication is generally admissible

Subject to all the normal rules for admissibility of course.

For texts between you and a third party the major issue that springs to mind is relevance. As in, how are they relevant to the dispute between you and this man? If they are not, your lawyer should have objected to them on this basis, however, its too late now.

I'm curious as to how he obtained these and whether it was done legally or not. Illegality will not affect their admissibility as the exclusionary rule doesn't apply to civil matters, however, it does speak to the gentleman's character.

  • 1
    To add to the great points you've made about Illegally obtaining this information, if information like this was obtained Illegally (without the consent of either party) it would be a civil (tort of invasion of privacy) ,and criminal (under the wire taping laws) offense. Aug 2, 2019 at 7:49
  • @StephanS not if it was just taken from an unlocked phone
    – Dale M
    Aug 2, 2019 at 9:40
  • 1
    Respectfully, that's argumentative. Aug 2, 2019 at 10:21
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    @StephanS of course, it’s the type of argument you’d raise in court
    – Dale M
    Aug 2, 2019 at 14:08
  • People still can have a reasonable expectation of privacy with regards to their phones and computers, whether locked or unlocked.
    – mark b
    Aug 2, 2019 at 15:36

Generally speaking, the texts sound like fair game.

Assuming you're in the United States, there's likely no privacy law that will protect you against the use of information obtained by a husband/boyfriend/etc. whom you appear to have given access to your phone.

Nor is there any rule that I can think of that would limit him from using those records in court. Admissibility is very case-specific, but I can't think of anything that would allow you to keep them out of evidence. The incoming texts from other people could be characterized as hearsay, but most could probably be shoehorned into an exception to the rule against hearsay.

Even if there were some reason that they were not admissible, you would have waived that objection by failing to raise it at the time they were being read into the record.

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