Social Media and Cell Phones Increasingly Yield Evidence in Divorce Cases

mobile device, cell phone, Illinois divorce attorneyA generation or two ago, the phrase “digital footprint” would have sounded like made-up nonsense. Today, however, an individual’s digital footprint actually exists as an electronic trail left from the use of online and digital services. Many have likely recognized some of the ways in which marketers utilize such information; for example, dynamic advertisements on certain websites will be presented based on a user’s prior search and browsing history. Beyond advertisers, though, more and more data is being pulled from social media and cell phones to be used as evidence in divorce cases.

Cell Phone Society

It is estimated that more than 90 percent of American adults own and use cellular phones. Two-thirds or more own smart phones, allowing them to access the internet and run apps directly from the device. These numbers have continued to grow in the last several years, as mobile device use has become nearly ubiquitous in American culture. What many fail to consider, however, is the treasure trove of information such devices can be when another person may be looking for something to use against them.

AAML Survey

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has reported that, based on its most recent survey, nearly all of the organization’s members have reported increases in divorce evidence being taken from smart phones and other mobile devices in the last three years. Of those surveyed, 97 percent have acknowledged such a change, and fully 99 percent have witnessed an increase of in the number of cases that include text message evidence. About two-thirds of respondents also cite the increase in information taken from mobile applications, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The president of the AAML, James McLaren noted that in the past, a private investigator may have been used to uncover this type of information, but today, it can literally be sitting right in a spouse’s pocket. “As with almost every aspect of our lives,” McLaren said, “smart phones and other wireless devices are having a big impact on the ways in which couples divorce.”

Types of Information

Of the family lawyers who have seen an increase in the use of smart phone evidence, nearly half (46 percent) say such evidence is usually in the form of text message information. Others cited a variety of common evidence sources from smart phones: about 30 percent reported emails, 12 percent said call history and stored contacts, 7 percent used browsing history, and 4 percent acknowledged the use of GPS related to the device.

If you are considering a divorce based on information you may have found on your spouse’s cell phone, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorney. We will review your situation, help you understand your options, and work with you in making the best decisions for your future. Schedule your free consultation today.

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