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JD 1992
JD 1992, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 32778
Experience:  Began practicing Family Law in 1992
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I'm trying to recover old text messages on my phone. My

Customer Question

Hi, I'm trying to recover old text messages on my phone. My son's mom is prohibiting me from seeing and I need to recover my old text messages to prove that she was making arrangements with me at some point for me to keep him.
JA: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: NC
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: I filed papers for custody and visitation.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No, that's it.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today.

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

Is there a specific question with which I could assist?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Ok.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Are you going to answer the question?
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

I asked, is there a specific question with which I could assist? My screen is not showing a question from you, just some facts.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I'm trying to recover old text messages on my phone. My son's mom is prohibiting me from seeing and I need to recover my old text messages to prove that she was making arrangements with me at some point for me to keep him.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
is there a way to recover my old text messages?
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

You can recover them back to as far as the cell phone company keeps them.

You have to have a lawsuit filed and then send a subpoena for the messages.

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

If you want them in admissible format you would need to subpoena them through a private court reporter and use the "business records exception" questions to "prove up" the messages.

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

The different companies keep the messages different lengths of time and they periodically change it.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
When I subpoena them will I have access to the full messages or just partial?
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

However, what you want to do is ask for the messages for about six months past the time you actually need them so that you're sure it is covered.

Usually they have the full messages if they have anything at all.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
When I called my cell company they stated that they keep text messages for two years but that it doesn't contain the content just the phone number. Will that change somehow with a subpoena?
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

Also, the time limits are changing now because of some laws the feds have passed or are passing. I'm not sure when they go into effect or what that is actually going to mean to the cell phone companies because they were claiming that their equipment wouldn't store the records for as long as the law was saying they had to and there was an issue as to whether the government could force them to reprogram the system. It's similar to the issue with Apple earlier this year.

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

No, the subpoena will only force them to give you what they have, whatever it is. Verizon used to keep the actual messages longer than the rest of the companies but it wasn't two years. I think the last time I was involved in a case that requested the actual messages the company said they only had them for a few months.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Ok, so it sounds like it won't do me any good to subpoena the records :(
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

There are a lot of articles on this topic but the gist of most of them is "we don't know how long they are going to keep the records".

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

From what time period did you need the texts?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
At least back to the middle of 2015 to prove that she was texting me and making arrangements for me to keep my son. Everything was fine for years but it changed at the end of 2015.
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

You may want to subpoena them and see what they respond with. However, I don't think any of the companies keep the actual texts for a year and a half now.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Ok, thanks for your time.
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 4 months ago.

You're very welcome.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.