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Digital Evidence in Divorce Cases

Wed, 10/31/2012 - 8:00pm

shutterstock"Be careful what you wish for," goes the wise old saying. It's true in many different contexts — including the ability to spy on a spouse or former spouse through misuse of passwords or electronic gadgets.

In the digital age, divorce in Atlanta and across the country has already been profoundly affected by social media. Facebook may facilitate affairs, but it also potentially provides evidence of them.

Increasingly, however, people involved in divorce are turning to ever-more high-tech means to find smoking gun evidence against a former (or soon-to-be-former) partner. This article will discuss the trend and its implications for the divorce process.

Evidence in Divorce Cases
Not so long ago, before virtually all states adopted no-fault divorce, evidence of infidelity was often required to make the case for divorce. Suspicious spouses sometimes hired private investigators to track down this somewhat salacious information.

Today, the stoic "gumshoe" detectives who did that work have largely been replaced by electronic tools capable of astonishing stealth. Move over Guy Noir, the Prairie Home Companion character who symbolizes the older way of gathering evidence. Enter James Bond, or at least gadgets that spies like him would once have had exclusive access to.

What are some of these newer ways of gathering evidence about the activities of a partner or former partner? This is not an exclusive list, but here are few of them:

  • Webcams or other hidden cameras for surveillance
  • Spying software on computers and cellphones
  • GPS devices to track movement of vehicles

Privacy Violations and Stalking
Using tools like this can not only violate a spouse's privacy, but it can also potentially have criminal consequences. In one recent case in Minnesota, a man was convicted of stalking his wife by using software that enabled him to spy on her text messages and computer use. The man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for the offense.

This was not an isolated incident, either. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has noted the rise of high-tech spousal snooping. And numerous federal courts have grappled with the applicability of the Federal Wiretap Act to the relationship between the parties to a marriage.

The Wiretap Act, in particular, is the subject of considerable controversy. This is because federal courts have reached conflicting rulings on whether it applies within a marriage.

Regardless of how that legal debate turns out, however, clearly the impact of technology is transforming how most people conceive of privacy — inside or outside of marriage.

Whether you're off the grid or wired to the hilt, there may come a time when your marriage will end. If you are in that situation, make sure you get the legal advice you need from an experienced divorce attorney.

Source: U.S. Politics Today

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