Apple recently released iOS 16 for the iPhone with an array of new features, including one that could affect couples considering or are actively litigating their divorce. The new software allows users to edit or delete/unsend text messages that were already sent. That means that a spouse may be able to change or remove a potentially incriminating text message that could be relevant in a divorce proceeding. If you are having marital problems, you might want to consider taking a screenshot of any text messages you receive immediately after you receive it to preserve the message for litigation.
How Can Text Messages Be Used in Divorce Litigation?
Most people think text messages can be used in divorce to prove a spouse was cheating. However, your spouse’s text messages on his or her phone are generally private and you don’t have a right to view them with some exceptions. In any event, such evidence is irrelevant since most divorces are no-fault meaning that you don’t have to prove infidelity or any other ground to obtain a judgment.
Text messages, however, may be used for other purposes that are relevant in divorce. For example, your spouse may be threatening or harassing you or making statements contrary to what he or she claimed in court. They can also be used to show how the parent of your child(ren) is interfering with your relationship with them. In such cases, copies of the text messages can be attached as exhibits to court documents and filings as evidence of what you are alleging. Unfortunately, if you cannot produce the original texts because they were edited or deleted, it will be more difficult to prove your case.
How Do the iOS 16 Edit and Delete/Unsend Features Work?
ZDNET and many other sites provide detailed explanations of how to use the new features. However, notably, the features only work if you are using iMessages, not regular text messages. Further, the edit function is only available for 15 minutes after you send the message and the unsend function for 2 minutes. Thus, to be safe, it is imperative that you screenshot any texts as soon as they arrive on your Apple device.
Is There Any Record of the Original Text After It Is Edited or Deleted?
Recipients of an edited text who use iOS-16 will see a small “Edited” label below the new version of the message. Tapping on the Edited label will show a log of the changes. Those using older versions of iOS will receive a second message with the edited text.
In the case of text messages that are unsent, those with iOS-16 will see a line of text in the thread indicating “[Name] unsent a message.” However, users on older versions may still be able to see the message. Here again, taking a screenshot of the message when it is received will preserve the original message and eliminate any doubt as to its integrity.
What Should You Do If You Get an Incriminating Text Message?
It’s always best to take a screenshot immediately upon receiving the text so you have the original. While it is possible that technology exists to retrieve the original text, it is likely to be time-consuming and costly to recover it.
You should also always inform your attorney of any problems as soon as possible.
Divorce is never easy. That’s why we work closely with clients to find the best solution for their case. Contact us to learn how we can help you achieve a positive outcome in your divorce.