Divorce Cases Increasingly Involve Smartphone Evidence, Study Finds

More than one-third of American adults own a smartphone, according to the Pew Internet Project. With smartphones proving their usefulness in everything from budgeting to navigation, their popularity is no surprise - but many people are discovering too late that owning a smartphone often does more harm than good in divorce court.

A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, or AAML, found that more than 90 percent of divorce attorneys have witnessed an increase in the number of divorce proceedings involving evidence pulled from smartphones over the past three years.

According to the AAML, the types of evidence most frequently taken from smart phones include:

  • Text messages (62 percent)
  • Emails (23 percent)
  • Phone numbers and call histories (13 percent)
  • Internet search histories (1 percent)
  • GPS location (1 percent)

Text messages can be a uniquely powerful form of evidence in divorce and other family law matters because they often record a relatively unfiltered stream of communication. Unlike other forms of written communication, texting often involves a rapid exchange of short, spontaneous messages. As a result, people often do not take the time to reflect on what they are saying and revise potentially damaging messages before hitting "send."

Some people may also feel a false sense of security when texting because they can be more difficult to save and print than emails, not realizing that the messages they send can easily come back to haunt them later on. The AAML also reported a major uptick in the use of evidence from social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, where many spouses unwittingly immortalize their domestic spats and extramarital flirtations in electronic form.

People going through a divorce should take great care to keep their text messages, online posts and other electronic communications private, and should think twice before putting things in writing that could be used against them in family court. For help navigating the divorce process, contact an experienced family law attorney.