Divorce cases, child custody disputes and domestic abuse situations commonly involve “he said, she said” scenarios: one spouse or ex-spouse says one thing, while the other spouse argues that the complete opposite is true. Therefore, some cases end up turning on even seemingly small pieces of evidence that ultimately sway the court to one side or the opposing party’s lawyers to maintain a stronger negotiating position.
Text Messages as Evidence
Considering the tremendous growth of smartphone technology in recent years, it was only a matter of time before texts and other forms of digital communication made their way into the courtroom. Divorceattorneys say they are noticing a dramatic increase in the use of evidence gathered from smartphones, particularly texts.
In fact, 92 percent of attorneys who participated in a survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a national group of divorce practitioners, reported that they noticed an increased number of cases that involve evidence from smartphones. An even greater number of attorneys surveyed — 94 percent — said that they observed increased use of text messages as evidence.
Other Smartphone Evidence
Other data from smartphones attorneys are attempting to present as evidence in court include:
- Call history
- GPS location history
- Internet search history
- Text messages
- Phone numbers
One way information from smartphones and social media, when admissible, can be used is during cross-examination to undermine credibility. For example, in one case, a wife used her husband's text to his secret lover to contradict his statement about being out of town on business, Ken Altshuler, president of the AAML, told NPR.
Of course, the best way to protect from having your texts revealed in court is to refrain from sending potentially incriminating messages in the first place. Next, spouses can protect personal information with passwords and other security measures. According to NPR, courts might rule evidence inadmissible if a spouse has stolen the information or a password used to gain access to it.
It is imperative that spouses involved in legal disputes contact a knowledgeable, qualified family law attorney to evaluate the best course of action for gathering evidence for their case in accordance with the law.