The Importance of Documentation; Email Forensics in This Day and Age

Or how to communicate with the personality disordered ex, during and after divorce.Computer-w-email If you have kids, there is no way around it, you have to communicate and the problems arise. False allegations are common and 1 of them often is that you ‘don’t communicate‘ with regards to the children. Another is that you are verbally abusive over the phone.

It is important to counter these false allegations and to document what you are doing.

Early on in the divorce proceedings the oldest was showing signs of depression. Per direction of the attorney of the children, after discussing the issue at a pre-trial meeting, I scheduled an appointment with a therapist. I informed Ex via email of the upcoming appointment. I already through Outlook had a ‘read receipt’ request and knew that Ex had read the email. Same with all further emails with regards to the oldest seeing a therapist. And then sh!t hit the fan. Ex had a meeting with the therapist and the therapist told Ex about his ‘disturbed’ relationship with oldest and wanted to make a plan to improve the bond between father and child.

That was such an insult to Ex, he turned around and started the false allegation that ‘he was never informed‘ and he was ‘going to report therapist to the licensing board‘. Typical behavior for a personality disordered parent, but of course it stirred up a lot of controversy. I provided the court with the read-receipts, settling the issue. Outlook’s read-receipts are not perfect and Ex found a way around them, so now I had a problem. With the history of denying receiving communications, the task was to protect myself against further allegations and continue to communicate.

So how do you communicate and gather evidence? The problem with internet communications is that it needs to be authenticated in order to pass the ‘rules of evidence’.

Text Messages

Some court allow text messages if the sender can be authenticated. And there lies the problem. Often litigants have a ‘nickname’ associated with the phone number; ‘Nick’, ‘Mom’, ‘BFF’. You can essentially name each and every phone number what ever you want, so this does not proof the text message was actually sent from the phone number associated with your ex.

So for text messages, whether printed or as a screen shot, to be admissible, the actual phone number of the sender has to be visible and authenticated as being from the ex-spouse.

Our Family Wizard

Personally, I’m a big fan of OFW (and no I’m not affiliated with them). Unfortunately they come with a fee of $99, however discounts are available for low-income families.

They offer a great SECURE platform to communicate through email and provide tools for financial accountability, sharing information, calendar etc. Not all information is shared with everybody. They have children’s accounts, which are sheltered, but also ‘professional accounts’. Giving the ‘parenting coordinator’ or ‘attorney for the children’ access can be very beneficial.

All entries are time and date stamped and are admissible in court as evidence. And there lies the crutch. A personality disordered parent does not want their actions or in-actions documented. In ‘normal’ conflicted or emotional divorces, neither parent would object to this form of communication, but a personality disordered parent will ferociously object and you may need to get a court order.

There are other online programs available, and please post links in the comment section if you know of them with a little review and tell us about your experience with them.

Email

So you’re stuck with email and documenting that your ex actually received and read the emails. Gmail is notorious for preventing sending read-receipts and many Macs do as well.

There are several email tracking services out there; Gmail Boomerang, ReadNotify, MSGTag just to name a few. They are work in essentially the same way. Each email you send will have a ‘tag’ attached to it that registered whether the email is delivered and when it is opened. Some services also register how often it is opened and at which IP address.

Now if you have a particularly deceitful ex you can use the paid service of RPost. This service is used by large insurance companies and law firms to not only proof delivery, read-receipt, but also content of the email sent.

Documenting your communications can provide the court with the evidence of who is more credible and protect you against false accusations. If 1 parent says ‘no email was sent’ the other parent can ascertain not only it was sent but also read, taking much of the ‘he said, she said’ out of the court room.

Email is a permanent record, so be careful what you actually write. Topic for another post and another day as this permanent record can beneficial for you, but an angry slip of the keyboard can also heavily count against you.