Can I use nasty emails my ex sent me as evidence in a custody dispute?

Asked 7 months ago - Portland, OR

My ex has sent me several really nasty emails. I want to show that he is unreasonable and hostile. Can I use these emails in court?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jay Bodzin

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Evidence of what?

    The general rule of evidence is that evidence is admissible if it helps to prove any fact that is relevant to the legal issues before the Court, unless subject to an exception. The fact that your ex-whatever (ex-husband? "Ex" doesn't really mean anything, to a lawyer - your child's co-parent, let's say) is unreasonable and hostile, without more, isn't legally relevant to anything. In theory, anyway. Custody cases are not intended to be forums for airing out and vindicating every personal dispute in a relationship.

    However, there are some legal standards to custody cases for which these emails might be very relevant. One critical factor in child custody determinations under Oregon law is this: which parent is more likely to foster an ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent? If your co-parent consistently acts to deny you time with your child, or refuses to provide you with critical information about your child's health and safety, then that is quite relevant to decisions of child custody. Emails from him to you showing him acting in such a way - putting his animosity ahead of the child's interests - are quite relevant, and you could try to admit them to show that. And the reverse holds true as well, of course - any messages you've sent him would be admissible against you as well. So you really want to be sure that you are consistently reasonable and polite to him, even if he doesn't do you the same courtesy. To a certain extent, child custody cases are "reasonableness contests." You win by appearing more reasonable than the other guy. This means politeness and courtesy, even in the face of provocation - though you don't have to surrender your own rights and boundaries - but it also means focusing on your child's best interests, and not spending all your time in court or out of it trying to paint your co-parent as a bad person for its own sake.

    Please read the following notice:

    Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and... more
  2. Jennifer L. Ellis


    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Probably. If the content is relevant to what you are trying to prove.

    I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New... more
  3. Brian Curtis Pascale


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Most likely yes. There may be some evidentiary issues that your lawyer will have to address related to them, but they should not be an problem. Make sure they have the headers showing where they came from are on the print-out and make sore nothing has been changed (even for grammar or editing), you do not want your Ex to show the Court the original with a different message, it will destroy your credibility.

    If this Answer was of assistance please mark it as "helpful." Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the... more

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