Maybe NJ Divorce Lawyers Need To Re-think Subpoenaing Text Messages

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on February 17, 2014

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We are in the middle of a communications revolution that is changing the way your divorce is being handled. There are so many ways that your spouse can communicate electronically today.

Are you entitled to see all of that electronic communication, and are you allowed to use it against your spouse if you find some "good stuff?"

Just when is it acceptable to subpoena text messages in a divorce case?

South Carolina divorce lawyer Ben Stevens wrote a great blog post recently, summarizing a recent Maine court decision that analyzed federal law on the issue and makes it fairly clear that there are strict restrictions in place.
 
Stevens quotes the Court as saying:

Justice Alexander noted that federal law clearly says the content of text messages must not be released except for law enforcement purposes without the express consent of the customer. Even law enforcement authorities must first get a warrant before accessing the messages. Nowhere in the Stored Communications Act does the law allow for text messages to be disclosed based only on a civil discovery subpoena.

In my opinion, this Maine decision is likely to have significant ramifications in all divorce cases here in New Jersey. My best advice to lawyers and clients in divorce cases in New Jersey: be careful. Be very careful.

 

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Topics: Divorce, Divorce Court

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