Smartphones in Divorce Trials

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As smartphones are becoming vital parts of many peoples’ lives, they are being used more and more to gather evidence for divorce cases. Just consider the huge amount and wide range of information your smartphone contains: text messages, photographs, videos, e-mail, Internet browser links, call histories, calendar entries and GPS tracking data. Smartphones can turn previously private conversations into matters of public record.

It is now common for a potential client to share texts, email exchanges and even Facebook posts with an attorney during a consultation. In custody or parenting time hearings, parties often present electronic correspondences to a judge for consideration. I regularly ask clients what digital information might be out there that could give the judge a clearer picture of what is really happening in the case. Text messages to the children can show whether a parent is actually supportive and encouraging of the other parent’s relationship with them or not. If one party claims they are seeking employment, their phone can document if they spent the day searching for employment or browsing non-job-related websites. Facebook posts can demonstrate harassing, threatening or inappropriate behaviors relevant to no contact or restraining orders.

So what to do with your smartphone? It may sound drastic, but it’s best to assume that anything on your smartphone could be read by a judge in your case. If you’re in the middle of a custody or parenting time battle, be conscious of the kinds of things you communicate with the adverse party, and make sure to document any electronic messages sent and received. Always remember, electronic evidence can cut both ways. The attorneys at Stahancyk, Kent & Hook have dealt with smartphone evidence in a number of cases and are prepared to help you make sure the technology is an asset, not a risk.