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How Electronic Communications and Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other forms of social media make it easier for us to share our lives with the world. But while a status update, recent photo or Tweet keeps us connected with family and friends, it can also be used as evidence against us in divorce proceedings.

Social media isn’t the only concern. According to a 2015 survey of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, electronic communications are increasingly used as evidence in divorce cases. Between 2012 and 2015, 97 percent of members reported an increase in evidence taken from smartphones. The most common types of evidence gathered were:

  • Text messages;
  • Emails;
  • Call histories;
  • Internet data; and
  • GPS information.

Do no use social media or electronic communications to badmouth your spouse, or brag about your infidelities, or do anything that paints you as a bad spouse or parent. Remember that divorce is not always the only thing at stake. Electronic communications can also be a factor in a custody battle.

The moral of the story is this: Be careful what you put into writing because it can and will be used against you in the courtroom.

Spying on Your Spouse’s Email

It is hard to ignore a text message or email notification that pops up on a spouse’s phone when they are standing right next to you. In that case, they might not have a strong expectation of privacy. But one man didn’t know that his wife was reading his email, and he was surprised when his own email messages were used against him to prove “serial infidelity” in a divorce proceeding.

A man filed a federal lawsuit against his ex-wife in 2014 under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. The couple was married from 1970 to 2011, and during the divorce proceeding, the ex-wife used email correspondence between the husband and other women to show that he had been unfaithful to her. But the husband claimed that he didn’t know she had access to his email and that she must have arranged to have his messages automatically forwarded to her account.

The federal district court dismissed the lawsuit in 2015, but the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (a federal appeals court based in Chicago), reversed. The appeals court said that the ex-wife's actions “technically fall within the language of the act, though Congress probably didn’t anticipate its use as a tactical weapon in a divorce proceeding.”

Our experienced attorneys will help ensure something like this doesn’t happen to you. We will build your case using evidence that legally can be introduced at trial.

Let Us Help You with Your Case

The passionate Naperville family law attorneys at the Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC, can help you navigate the divorce process, including advising you about what not to post on social media or include in electronic communications. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Sources:

http://aaml.org/sites/default/files/The%20Columbus%20Dispatch%20(6-14-15).pdf

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/unauthorized_access_to_cheating_husbands_emails_violates_wiretap_act_but_sh

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