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

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?

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Attorney answers 3


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 State of New York. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.



In one of the emails, he says its going to look bad for me to show the emails in court. Is that true?

Brian C. Pascale

Brian C. Pascale


Not if you are the one who is calm and collected in the emails.

Jay Bodzin

Jay Bodzin


In general it is a bad idea to take legal advice from someone who is adverse to you in a possible legal dispute. Trust nothing that your co-parent says about the law or legal process. They are obviously biased against you, and even if they weren't, they're (presumably) not a lawyer. Talk to your own lawyer in private for more detailed guidance.


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: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin<br> Bodzin Donnelly Mockrin & Slavin, LLP<br> 2029 SE Jefferson Street, Suite 101, Milwaukie, OR 97222<br> <br> Telephone: 503-227-0965<br> Facsimile: 503-345-0926<br> Email:<br> Online:


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 Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation and social security disability. This post is not legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in this post. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.

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