Are Text Messages Admissible in Family Court in Illinois?

In the digital age, the boundaries between personal communication and legal matters have become increasingly intertwined. If you are reading this article you may be wondering “Are Text Messages Admissible in Family Court?” While text messages were once viewed as informal exchanges, they now hold significant weight in various legal proceedings, including family court cases. If you’re in Illinois and navigating a family court matter, understanding the admissibility of text messages as evidence is crucial. Let’s delve into the topic and explore the relevant statutes that govern this issue.

Text messages are admissible in Bloomington IL Court according to family law attorneys

The Ubiquity of Text Messages

The prevalence of text messages has transformed the way we communicate. These quick and convenient exchanges allow individuals to share information, emotions, and vital details in real time. As a result, the legal landscape has evolved to incorporate these digital conversations into the courtroom, including family law cases. Text messages are treated much like any other form of communication but there are a few specific issues to keep in mind when relying on text messages in your case.

There are many other kinds of electronic communication and recording that have also become more ubiquitous. For information on the admissibility of voice recordings check out “Can I Use A Voice Recording As Evidence In Family Court in Illinois?

Tips for Using Text Messages as Evidence

If you’re considering using text messages as evidence in a family court case, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Preserve the Messages

As soon as you believe that text messages might play a role in your family court case, make sure to preserve them. Do not delete any relevant messages, as doing so could be seen as an attempt to destroy evidence. If possible, take screenshots or save copies of the messages in a secure location. Organizing these texts chronologically in the order you received them will also help your case by making the texts easier to understand for the judge, jury, and your attorney.

  1. Seek Legal Counsel

Navigating the legal intricacies of using text messages as evidence can be challenging. It’s advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that the messages are collected and presented correctly. Attorney’s can be expensive, to learn more check out “How Much Does A Family Law Attorney Cost in Illinois?

  1. Obtain Consent

If you intend to use text messages from the opposing party as evidence, it’s generally best to inform them beforehand and seek their consent to use the messages in court. This transparency can help prevent accusations of privacy invasion and misconduct. You do not, however, need express written consent to use text messages in court. Judges will determine if the text messages are admissible, an issue we will touch on later.

  1. Verify Authenticity

If the authenticity of the messages might be questioned, consider obtaining verification from the sender or recipient. Their testimony can bolster the credibility of the messages and increase the chances of their admissibility. To verify you should include in your screenshots the number/contact you are messaging, the date you are messaging, confirm in court that the number assosiated with the contact in your phone is truly the number of your spouse (possibly by asking them on the stand), and avoid deleting messages. Many phones have a setting to delete read texts 30 days after opening them. This setting should be turned off.

Even if all of these steps are followed, the court still has to follow the rules of evidence. These rules govern the admissibility of all kinds of evidence, including text messages. Keep reading to learn more about what evidence is admissible in court. To learn more about the rules of evidence check out our article titled “How to Present Evidence in Family Court in Illinois.”

Family law attorneys in McLean County Illinois

Admissibility of Text Messages in Illinois

The admissibility of text messages in family court proceedings in Illinois is guided by legal statutes and precedents that ensure a fair trial. Two critical statutes come into play when determining whether text messages can be presented as evidence: the Illinois Electronic Commerce Security Act (IECSA) and the Illinois Rules of Evidence.

  1. Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)

The UETA is a statute that governs the use of electronic records and signatures in legal proceedings, including family court cases. Section 13 of the UETA (815 ILCS 333/13) and the surrounding statutes address the admissibility of electronic records, which includes text messages, in court proceedings. The statute recognizes the validity and enforceability of electronic records and signatures, provided certain conditions are met.

To ensure the admissibility of text messages under the UETA, it’s important to establish the reliability and authenticity of the messages. This can be achieved by demonstrating that the electronic record was created, sent, or received by the person it is purported to be from. Additionally, the court may consider factors such as the integrity of the electronic storage system and the processes used to ensure accuracy. This often involves contacting phone providers to verify records, but it will help if you avoid deleting messages so you can scroll back to the texts in your messaging app.

  1. Illinois Rules of Evidence

The Illinois Rules of Evidence play a fundamental role in determining the admissibility of any type of evidence, including text messages, in court proceedings. Rule 901 governs the requirement of authentication or identification of evidence. This rule mandates that the party seeking to introduce the text messages must present sufficient evidence to support a finding that the evidence is what it is claimed to be.

Authentication of text messages typically involves presenting testimony from the sender or recipient of the messages, or using other corroborating evidence to establish their authenticity. If the court is satisfied that the messages are genuine, they may be admitted as evidence.

Factors Influencing Admissibility

Several factors influence the admissibility of text messages as evidence in family court in Illinois:

  1. Relevance: Evidence is relevant if it makes a fact of consequence more or less likely to be true. The text messages must be relevant to the issues being discussed in the family court case. They should help establish or clarify facts related to matters such as child custody, support, visitation, or other pertinent issues. If the court cannot determine why a text is relevant, it will not be admissible.
  2. Hearsay: Hearsay refers to statements made outside of court that are offered as evidence in court to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Text messages could potentially fall under the category of hearsay. However, exceptions to the hearsay rule, such as statements made by a party opponent (if you’re the Plaintiff then the Defendant would be your party opponent and vice versa. This is rule 801(d)(2).), might apply. The party opponent rule and other exceptions can be found on the Illinois Courts website under rules 801, 802, and 803.
  3. Privacy and Consent: It’s important to consider privacy concerns when using text messages as evidence. If the messages were obtained without the sender’s knowledge or consent, they might face challenges related to privacy rights. If the text messages were sent to you directly then they are often admissible as long as they do not violate one of the other rules of evidence. This can become an issue in difficult contested divorce cases. If you’re in a difficult contested divorce you may want to read “What to Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist.”
  4. Chain of Custody: Establishing a clear chain of custody is crucial to ensure the integrity of the text messages. This involves documenting who had access to the messages and how they were preserved from the time they were obtained until they are presented in court.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Navigating the complexities of using text messages as evidence in family court cases requires legal expertise. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney in Illinois, like those at KGN Law Firm, is essential to ensure that you adhere to the relevant statutes and rules. A skilled attorney can help you gather and present text messages effectively, increasing the likelihood of their admissibility in court.

Conclusion: Are Text Messages Admissible in Family Court in Illinois?

Text messages have become a staple of modern communication and are increasingly being used as evidence in family court cases. In Illinois, the admissibility of text messages is subject to the rules outlined in the Illinois Electronic Commerce Security Act and the Illinois Rules of Evidence. To enhance the chances of text messages being admitted as evidence, parties must establish their authenticity, relevance, and compliance with legal procedures. Consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney is paramount to navigate this process successfully and present a compelling case in family court. As technology continues to reshape our lives, the legal system evolves to integrate these changes while maintaining the principles of justice and fairness.


The Family Law attorneys at Koth Gregory & Nieminski understand that your family is the top priority, which is why we offer SAME-DAY APPOINTMENTS. If you need a divorce or other family law services, you can schedule your first meeting through our online appointment calendar. We look forward to meeting you.

Disclaimer: This article (How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost in Illinois?) may contain information that is outdated as Illinois law continuously evolves. Meeting with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to ensure you are receiving the most current information regarding How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost in Illinois?

Are Text Messages Admissible in Family Court in Illinois?

Published by Dustin Koth on February 16, 2024

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