do I have to provide emails and/or texts to someone’s lawyer in their divorce case

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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do I have to provide emails and/or texts to someone’s lawyer in their divorce case

I have been asked to provide email and text communication I have had with a friend by her husband’s lawyer. They seem to want to prove that she is mentally unstable and think her communications with me might show that. I have already had a long recorded conversation with them in lieu, possibly, of a deposition. I don’t feel comfortable sharing private emails/texts because they are private and, I believe, don’t provide any facts that might support their claim. Am I required to provide these emails/texts about a dozen of each?

Asked on August 9, 2019 under Family Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you are subpoeanaed for the material, you have to provide it: a subpoena is essentially a court order and if you don't comply, you can be punished (fined; forced to pay the other side's legal bills or costs from seeking the information from you; in extreme cases, jailed). If it's not a subpoena, just a request, you can ignore or refuse it, but once you get a subpoena, you have to either comply or make a formal motion on notice to the court for a "protective order" "quashing" the subpoena--and that will only be granted that if you can prove to the court's satisfaction that the material is not in any way relevant or is privileged in some way, and that is unlikely. American law favors broad disclosure or "discovery" and is loathe to bar it. And if you do make a motion and the court rules against you, you'll then have to provide the material.

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