If you are in the middle of a divorce case, you may want to know the value of Whatsapp chat history for divorce in terms of proving your claim in court.
Over the last few years, the common question divorce attorneys heard from clients that whether these chat histories can be used as proof of evidence in court or not. In this article, I will answer this in detail.
FAQs on Whatsapp Chat History For Divorce
Can WhatsApp messages be used in divorce?
The answer is both YES and NO. It depends on your local statutory law and the correlation between the subject matter of the case and the messages. The courts also check the authentication of the messages before accepting or rejecting them.
Some states are now passing legislation allowing parties to use chat history in divorce and other legal proceedings. Some don’t allow it at all because it isn’t clearly permitted under present legislation. At the same time, many others lack clear direction.
For example, Virginia has no laws governing the use of social media data as evidence in court.
In contrast, Massachusetts does but does not enable anyone to examine or seize another’s personal computer hard drive without a judge’s permission.
That doesn’t rule out the possibility of using Whatsapp chats in divorce proceedings. You have a good chance.
Many incidents have lately been highlighted in the media where WhatsApp chat records were used in divorce procedures over the last decade.
Indeed, research shows that divorce cases, including social media evidence, have increased by almost 40% since 2010.
If your local statute law is unclear on this, your lawyer may try to persuade the court to accept this evidence by demonstrating a link between the chats and the subject matter of your case.
U.S Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas insists that “the Constitution does not require States to keep their evidentiary rules frozen in time.” We agree with him because social media has changed much since it started.
It now holds much evidence that could help solve cases like divorce. I am sure your attorney will try strongly to use Whatsapp message history to prove your divorce case.
When does the court accept Whatsapp Chat History as Evidence?
If there is no statutory prohibition about accepting chat history, the court will look at its relevancy and authenticity before accepting it. I think you already know what the meaning of relevancy is.
If it indicates that your spouse cheated with the intention to divorce you, it will be helpful for you. As part of the authenticity, you just need to prove that
— The messages you submitted as evidence are real and not edited or deleted partially,
— The chats have a precise sending time and date
— The name or number or relevant contact information of the sender or receiver is indicated
How do I prove Whatsapp messages in court
First, you need to establish a correlation between WhatsApp chat history and the content of the case. Irrelevant messages are not acceptable to the courts. In the second step, you need to make the data as the document to show to the court. You can do that either by:
Screenshots are great for documenting evidence because they can be easily saved and shared. You can take screenshots of everything from call logs to chat history, even photos.
But, for long chat history, this method is a timely matter. Moreover, courts need to keep a record of submitted data. So, in that case, you can use the below method.
Extracting Chat as PDF to print:
You can extract the whole chat data, download them as pdf and print them to show evidence in court. The court needs the documents as a printed version as they can keep them as the evidential record of the case.
You may use software like WhatsApp Pocket for this purpose. This video might be helpful to know how to Print iPhone Text Messages and WhatsApp chats for court.
How to get Whatsapp chat history of others legally
The accurate answer is by the court order or by the help of the police as a part of the investigation. The problem is that Whatsapp does not store any data of its user’s messages. The only way is to gain a court order to hand over the device of the person where Whatsapp was installed to send these messages.
You cannot ask the other person to give out their Whatsapp chat history directly because that will lead to an awkward situation.
Can Whatsapp chat be retrieved by the police?
Of course, they can. We knew that Whatsapp chats are end-to-end encrypted and are not stored anywhere in the world. But, some recent reports showed that police retrieved the Whatsapp chat history.
There are three possible ways in which the police can access Whatsapp chats, including Whattsapp Logs that aren’t encrypted, GoogleDrive/Cloud backup, and phone cloning of the targeted person.
Legal Implications of Using Whatsapp Message in Divorce Cases:
Accepting a chat history from Whatsapp as evidence can lead to ethical and legal issues. Judges may be worried about the invasion of privacy that this type of evidence entails from a moral standpoint.
Apart from infringing on a person’s right to privacy, social media messages are frequently protected by privacy laws, making them inadmissible in court.
There are also legal objections to such type of evidence. For example, if one party has opened their Whatsapp chat history to the public, it is not private.
Especially if you try to use the message of your spouse’s Whatsapp account, the court may ask you how you have collected that chat history from your spouse’s mobile.
Have you any legal access to the device of your spouse? You have to prove that the copy of the Whatsapp message you have submitted to the court is authenticated. Messages sent from your device, on the other hand, may be accepted more readily.
Emotional Implications of Using Whatsapp Chat for Divorce
Social media evidence like WhatsApp messages is often used in lengthy divorce proceedings as proof that the other party is being unfaithful or negligent. Unfortunately, it can have emotional consequences for those involved.
For example, a person may send messages while intoxicated and not remember doing so in the morning. People often emotionally message their close family members to release the pressure of a bad marital relationship.
Because of these issues, many judges are wary of receiving Whatsapp messages as evidence in court and may be more inclined to dismiss cases that involve such proof.
Importance of Whatsapp Chat History for divorce proceedings
The importance of WhatsApp messages for divorce proceedings cannot be overemphasized.
Such messages can be used as valuable supporting evidence in divorce cases even though they might not directly relate to the case in question unless there’s proof that they were forged or tampered with.
For instance, a court can consider chat history and messages sent via WhatsApp if it is convinced that they reveal the truth behind a divorce case. These messages might be reliable sources of evidence in case they are submitted to the court along with other supporting documents.
However, WhatsApp chat history and messages may not form the backbone of divorce proceedings or weighty grounds for a successful petition in a case. There’s proof that these were tampered with.
In such a case, it would consider other supporting documents to determine the truth behind the petition.
New research shows that social media posts or chats on different platforms can be used as evidence. And it’s changing the idea of forensic science.
For the first time, an appeals court in New York ruled that tweets may be enough to prove the case if they are correlated to the subject matter of the case firmly.
While this kind of decision is still unusual, experts predict it will become more common in the future. Because judges now see posting incriminating material online as no different from making statements to police or writing them down on paper.
Nowadays, the court doesn’t make any difference between conventional evidence and electronic evidence. Instead, they just try to judge the weight of the evidence by checking the relevancy and authenticity.
So, if you are involved in a divorce and are concerned about the possibility of using WhatsApp chat history as evidence, you should discuss this with your attorney.