Smartphone technology may be the best thing that ever happened to lawyers looking for evidence in a divorce case. From the call log to the address book, from archived texts to dating apps, a smartphone tells its owner’s life story in data.
In general, divorce lawyers are permitted access to so-called electronic evidence and can obtain it rather easily. For example, text messages and emails sent from one spouse’s smartphone to the other spouse are considered fair game if they are relevant to the case. The same can be said of electronic communications to and from children and friends.
Similarly, information from computers and telephone accounts shared by the former spouse can also used as evidence. For example, a divorce lawyer could theoretically subpoena records from the couple’s service carrier to review information stored in a data cloud.
It is worth noting that while some individuals may be tempted to try to purge information from their devices, attorneys can request a court order protecting the desired electronic evidence. Failure to abide by this order can result in the judge imposing harsh penalties.
Most states have no-fault divorce laws, so a spouse doesn’t need to collect evidence of a secret love affair before filing for divorce. Instead, spouses are using information gleaned from smartphones as evidence in disputes about alimony and/or child custody.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and foursquare are particularly valuable sources of information. Facebook status updates, photos and friends can all provide clues about how a person spends their time when they claim to be looking for a job. Their foursquare venues track where they are. Their tweets, posts on a message board, comments on news events may provide detailed information about their suitability as a parent.
Individuals who are contemplating divorce should remember that they have no guaranteed expectation of privacy when it comes to their mobile devices and divorce.
Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
To learn more about dissolution of marriage, property division, spousal maintenance or other divorce-related issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The Detroit Free Press, “Smartphones provide easy evidence for divorce lawyers,” Mark Morris, March 20, 2012