Smartphone data ending up as evidence in family law court

In today’s world more and more people are using smartphones — such as iPhones and Androids — on a daily basis to send text messages, make phone calls, look up online information, use a GPS and check different social media sites. And while having this handy device right in your back pocket certainly adds a level of convenience to life, many are seeing their smartphone being used as evidence in a divorce proceeding.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in the past three years 92 percent have seen an increase in family law cases involving evidence from a smartphone. As of now, text messages top the list of what is used in court, but emails, phone numbers, GPS and internet search results have also all ended up being used in order to prove a point.

When looking at how this data can be used against a person, let’s say that a couple is in a heated child custody battle, and one spouse is trying to prove the other parent is saying negative things about them to their children. Maybe years ago a spouse could have attempted to deny the trash-talking allegations. However, now text messages can be submitted to prove that one parent was saying something negative about the other parent via text to a child.

Smartphone data can also be used to prove financial situations in family law cases too. For example, let’s say an ex-wife is fighting for alimony on the basis that she has no money, but then it’s seen she’s been checking in on Facebook to fancy restaurants all around town. Or, that instead of looking for work, she’s been spending all day surfing the Internet and not even looking for a job. Just how would this information look to a judge?

Going forward, with smartphones becoming increasingly more popular, the data contained within these devices will most likely continue to play a part in divorce proceedings. Because of this, the advice is simple: If you don’t want the data to be entered into court as evidence, simply don’t text or write anything using your phone that you would not want a judge to read.

Source: Kansas City Star, “Smartphones provide easy evidence for divorce lawyers,” Mark Morris, March 8, 2012

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