Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have heard horror stories from other women about divorce lawyers collecting evidence from their social media sites and technology. My husband requested a divorce from me a few months back, and I am sorry to say I was not too kind to him on line. I am wondering now if I have done anything that may jeopardize my child custody case? Should I be concerned?”
Divorce lawyers across the United States report that there has been an exponential increase in the amount of evidence collected from social networking sites and other electronic technology. If you are going through a divorce it’s very important to understand the law so you will be protected from common pitfalls of using technology and how it can potentially damage your divorce case.
What technology and social media might be explored by a lawyer?
Divorce lawyers are likely to explore a variety of different types of technologies and social medial sites including: texts, emails, phone numbers, call histories, GPS and Internet search histories, and social media sites, including Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. To prevent loss of evidence it’s likely that both parties will be asked to keep their information intact on all the sites listed above.
Let’s take a closer look at how divorce lawyers use information on some of the most common technologies.
- Cell phone messages
Cell phone messages are commonly used to provide information for a divorce. Whether it’s frustration or anger, text messages are often reflexive responses made in haste which might offer a window into the true intentions of certain individuals.
Text messages can also be printed and reviewed to determine if what someone said in a deposition is supported by what was written in text messages. The old adage for text messages applies more than ever in a divorce: Don’t write anything down that you would not want read out loud in court.
Cell phone records as well as GPS tracking information may also be retrieved and provide a treasure trove of information for divorce lawyers such as information about marital infidelities.
- Computers and email
Like text messages, email messages may also be accessed or confiscated, especially if you have legal access to your partner’s account. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that if you need to send or receive private information during a divorce proceeding that you should not use a home computer that your spouse can access.
- Social Media Sites
Although some information is difficult to access (especially without a subpoena) and court rulings vary, divorce lawyers may have access to information from social media sites, especially public or quasi-public information. It’s best to assume that anything you might post is likely to turn up in court.
Furthermore, you also need to assume that just because you deleted something does not mean that it cannot be retrieved. In fact, deleting certain types of information can be illegal at specific times in certain legal cases.
Talk to your lawyer if you have questions about how to handle your social sites and electronic technology before, during, and after your divorce. And assume everything you have written can be subpoenaed and used as evidence against you.
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