With the prevalence of smartphones today, it should be no surprise that some of the most frequent evidence in a modern divorce and child custody case are text messages or other electronic evidence. Many potential clients will come to their consultation appointment with pages and pages of screenshots printed out, but it can often be very difficult to follow the context of those text conversations without the benefit of time and date stamps.
Once we are hired to handle their family court cases, one of the first questions we usually get from clients is how to best organize this evidence so that the context and timeline are clear to the court and other professionals who may need to review the information. Below are a few of the options we often recommend to help with this process:
One of the best pieces of software for iPhone and Apple device users is iMazing. What started as a program focused mainly on preserving text message conversations has evolved over time to become an all-in-one Apple device manager. It has the ability to create beautifully preserved text messages (including any message attachments) with time and date stamps.
It will also allow users to download, organize, and save photos and videos along with other data typically stored on their personal electronic devices. There is a cost for this software, but it’s minimal when compared with the evidential value of what it can preserve in an admissible format for use in your family court case.
SMS Backup & Restore
A similar program for Android users is the free application, SMS Backup & Restore, which is available in the Google Play Store. While the resulting reports aren’t as visually stunning as those produced by iMazing for the iPhone, they are produced in a searchable format and will display chronologically for easy timeline creation.
PWRSwitch is a relatively new option on the market. What’s so great about this software download is that it comes in two versions – one for iPhones and one for Android devices – and it was invented specifically for high-conflict domestic legal situations.
As long as messages have not been deleted from your device, it can capture literally years of data very quickly and will organize it all into PDF documents which are clearly time and date stamped for use in court. Please note that the company is based in Canada, so its pricing is listed in CAD.
These are just a few programs we recommend investigating when trying to collect and preserve evidence for divorce or child custody cases in Family Court. Even if you haven’t made the final decision to file an action, you may want to preserve information that could later be helpful if you do hire an attorney. Also, if you have previously been through litigation but are still experiencing problems with your co-parenting relationship, these programs can also be very useful in documenting issues for later use in court.
Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and he is a Board-Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has represented parties in Family Court cases all across South Carolina for over twenty-five years. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, or other family law case, contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule a consultation.
Author: J. Benjamin Stevens
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the charlotte observer and Mike Hunter.
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