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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69259
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My wife keeps getting text messages from our sons ex-partner

Customer Question

My wife keeps getting text messages from our son's ex-partner accusing her of things which are either untrue or a blatant lie. The reason for this is my son and his ex-partner had three children, who are now aged 11, 6 & 5. My son and his partner had been together for about 10 years and then about four years ago they split up, due to incompatabilty and he actually found a new partner, who he now lives with. His ex-partner went completely mad when she found out that he had left her for another woman, and ever since she has waged a campaign of hated against my son both on Facebook and by sending malicious text message to my wife and my son. Basically this separation has turned her from quite a pleasant young lady into a complete monster who's sole aim is to try to gain revenge. She has tried just about everything, such as:-
1) Calling the Police and accusing him of violence. She said that he tried to attack her with a hammer, which he vehemently denies. This resulted in him being arrested but was released without charge.
2) Having numerous affairs, which he denies.
3) Having a gambling problem, which he did have but has now been able get under control from councilling. She continues however to accuse him of being addicted to gambling.
There are numerous other things that she has said either verbally, on Facebook or in e-mail.
As an example, she accused my son of having caught clymidia and having passed it onto to her. He said that to my two daughters, in front of her 3 children, now aged 11, 6 & 5.
When I told my son what she had said, he went absolutely mad, as he said he has never had clymidia and therefore could not have passed it onto her.
There are about 30 other claims that she has made in writing, on e-mail, but I would like your comment on this, as this is in my opinion the most appalling thing she has ever done.
My wife sent a text message to her telling her to stop using her children as a weapon against their father. He currently sees his children for one day every fortnight. My wife said this because if somebody says something to her that she does not like, which is usually the truth, she will immediately retaliate, by making false claims and being very abusive. She will also stop him seeing the children, although he has not spoken to her. He cannot speak to her or go to her house as he has a Restraing Order placed on him by the court. She does it simply because my wife or I tell her to stop doing it, as it is bad for the children.
Anyway about an hour later my wife received another text from her saying:-
"Hello Nanna this is not Janice (her mother), it is Jade. I am just contacting you to tell you that I do not like the way that you treat my mum and if it carries on I don't want anything to do with you. You are an evil nasty person and you are Snide as well
Then later on she came back to my wife and said Quote "How dare you accuse me of being a bad mother. I am a much better mother than you have been. He (my son) gets all of his worst faults from you obviously" Unquote. My wife then sent a text message back saying that she had not accused her of being a bad mother and had simply told her not to use her children, as a weapon.
My wife then suddenly burst into tears and said I cannot believe that Jade (our grandaughter) has said that to me and she must really hate me. I then said that wasn't our granddaughter, that was her mother, pretending to be her daughter, so that she could upset my wife. I said:-
a) Jade would have said Hello Nanna this is not Mum, it is Jade. She would not have said this is not Janice (her mother).
b) She would not have used her mother's phone to send a text message. She would have used her own phone. Why would anyone use another person's phone if they already have their own (which she has)
c) Why did she use the word snide, which I had heard of and I though it meant nasty or unpleasant. We checked in the dictionary and it means neither. It actually means disparaging, unking, hurtful, mean, sacrcastic, base, malicious, cynical, spiteful etc. Anyway, whatever it means it is certainly would only be used to upset sombody.
My wife still believes that her granddaughter says this and is still very upset, as she believe that her granddaughter hates her. So when my son last saw his children, hea asked her if she had ever heard of the word 'SNIDE', to which she replied she wasn't sure but she thought it might nasty. She the asked her dad, why he had asked her this. He then said that Nanna had received a message from her (our granddaugter, sent on her mum's phone) and that it said, THIS IS NOT JANICE, IT IS JADE, and that it had included the word SNIDE. Jade said she didn't know what he was talking about and that she had not sent any message.
So my questions are:-
1) Can she be sued for making slanderouse remarks in a text message
2) Do you think my wife has a case for suing her for libel
3) Would the punishment be ? A fine, and if so how much or prison sentence and how long.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

I'm very sorry for the delay.

Would you mind summarising your question? I'm afraid the above exceeds the word length and I can't see it all on my ipad.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Basically I would like to know if:-


a) Can somebody be sued for libel if they have made a libelous statement in a text message, or does libel only cover something in writing or in a newspaper.

b) If the answer to question point a) is YES, if somebody (Janice) uses their own phone, to pretend to be somebody else (i.e our granddaughter, Jade). can they (Janice) be sued for libel, as this message has been sent from their phone and she is the registered owner of this phone. So basically can she get out of it by saying, 'I didn't send this message, it was nothing to do with me, it was sent by Jade (our granddaugter). Because this is what she has said to me basically when I accused her (Janice) of pretending to be Jade (our granddaugter). So if somebody (Jade) uses her (Janice's) phone, could she still be sued for libel, as it has been sent from her (Janice's) phone.

c) If the answer to point b) is YES, do you think that she (Janice) could be sued by my wife (Lorraine) for an act of Libel.

d) If the answer to ponit c) is YES, do you think that Libel action would be successful.

e) If it was successful, what sort of punishment would it be. would it be looking at. A fine, or a prison sentece. And finally,

f) If it was a fine, how much could it be for (the maximim amount) or if it was a prison sentence, how long could it be for (months/years)


At the end of the day the last thing that my wife and I want to do is to take this action, as we would much prefer to sort this matter out like responsible adults, by having a long chat with her, and pointing out to her, that what she is doing is actually against the law and that she could therefore get a fine (or even a prison sentence). This is the last thing that we would ever want to do, but she refuses to speak to me. She will have nothing to no with me. Could I send her a text message or even an e-mail maybe explainging this to her, if she won't actually talk to me in person or on the phone (neither of which she is prepared to do)



But we are sick to death of this, as this sort of thing has been going on for 4 years now, and we just want it to stop it.


So to sum up, I think that we can might be able to sue her for saying that my wife (Lorrane) said that she (Janice) was a bad mother, because Lorraine has never said that to her or anone else and never would say that. And she (Janice) said in her text message to Lorraine, that Lorraine was SNIDE, which also is not true, as Snide according to the dictionary means: Disparaging, unkind, hurtful, mean, sarcastic, base, malicious, cynical and spite ful. My wife (lorraine) is none of these and thereful is very upset by this statement which has been made by Janice, although she says it was our granddaugter (Jade) who said it.


But Jade does not know what Snide means, as she is just an 11 year old child, and perhaps more importantly she has told her dad that she did not send this message, and has no idea what he is talking..


Many thanks for your assistance.




Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Are the only messages to your wife? This hasn't been repeated elsewhere?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, it's just my wife, and it's only been since my wife told her to stop using her children as a weapon against their day.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thats not libel then I'm afraid.

Libel is defamation and it arises when you comment adversely about a person to others and damage their reputation as a result. Its also a very expensive action in which you don't generally want to be involved.

This might amount to harassment possibly depending on the volume of messages and their character and whether or not your wife is responding to them.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.



Thank you for your response. So what you are saying therefore is that you can say absolutely anything in a text message, because as other people cannot see it there has been no damage to their reputation. So therefore you could accuse somebody of being a rapist or mass murderer, even if that were untrue, and they couldn't do anything about it.


Surely that cannot be right that you can say such things in an e-mail.


But if that's what the Libel Law says then you are correct in what you have told me.


So it sounds like Libel only occurs if something is written in a newspaper/magazine etc. or written on a website, such as FaceBook


My wife did receive seven text message in one day, which was the day Janice made these two comments (e.g when Lorraine was accused of being SNIDE and when Janice accused Lorraine of saying that she (Janice) was a bad mother, which she did not say). She did respond to all messages but just to say that Janice was wrong and why she was wrong.


As an example, Janice accused Lorraine of:-


1) Being a bad mother and the reason that our son was such a bad person,

2) Janice said I do wish my kids weren't called Beanlands (the children took their father's name).


Since this day, in June, Lorraine and Janice have not had any communication, as Lorraine refuses to have any contact with her and wants nothing to do with her ever again.


I wonder if there is anything that we could do under the Slander Act, as Janice told my two daughters out in the street, whilst she was sitting in the driving seat of her car, that our son had contracted Clymidia, whilst having many affairs. She also said he had given it to her. My son has said that he has not had Clymidia and that he hadn't slept with anyone until he met his latest partner. So my two daughters, Isabelle and Denise heard this comment and so did our three granddaugheers, who wer sitting in the back of the car at the time.


Or can you not rely on my daughters, as they are sisters. Or can minors not be included as witnesses, or can they not be included as it is their mother who has lied to Isabelle and Denise.


This is obviously starting to get extremely messy with brother and sisters involved and children involved.




Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Any communication directly to the person you insult is not liable. You cannot damage their reputation because only they can hear or see the comments.

You don't want to bring a libel claim anyway. Its not very accessible.

The comment amount Clymidia is not public enough to be libellous.

Thats not to say that other actions are not open if your wife is not responding
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



Ok, unfortunately it looks like there is nothing we can do under the Libel Act or the Slander Act.


You say that other options are open if my wife is not responding. What might they be ?


There has been absolutely no contact since June, so I cannot say that Janice is harrassing her now, as she isn't. What really annoys me is that Janice has lied and used her child (by pretending to be her child) and then attacked my wife. Janice has pretended to be Jade (our granddaughter) and said such hurtful things that my wife has been very upset and she has been very depressed and the day that Jade did ignore her (which was Father's Day) my wife disappeared for about 4 hours and we were really worried where she had disappered to. My two sons went out looking for her and eventually found her sobbing over the park. What Janice does not reallise is this one horrible, nasty and despicable act has caused my wife immense pain, as she thinks that Jade doesn't love her any more.


So I was hoping that I could threaten to sue Janice, unless she admitted that it was actually her (Janice) who had sent the horrible message. If she were to do that, Lorraine would feel so much better about herself, and would at the same time absolutely hate Janice for what she had done.


Thank you for your help



Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I am sorry but if there has been no contact since June then its not likely to be considered a harassment either.

It could amount to a malicious communication if she is not responding but the police probably won't be interested in that either if its over two and nearly three months old. They would struggle to get that into court in time anyway.

I am very sorry.

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