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Divorce lawyers note major increase in use of cell phone evidence

Earlier this week, we wrote that information taken from Facebook is increasingly being used as evidence in divorce and child custody battles. The internet and social media sites increase our ability to communicate with one another, but they also leave a detailed record of our interactions that we may not want some people to see.

That's why it is especially important for Pennsylvania residents to be careful when posting anything online, especially if you are going through a divorce. However, according to a survey of family law attorneys, evidence from your phone may also incriminate you.

A recent survey given to members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that 92 percent of respondents have seen an increase in the use of cell-phone evidence in divorce and child custody cases over the past few years.

The president of the AAML explained that, "Texts, emails, and Facebook posts have removed a lot of the he said/she said ambiguity from the divorce process because they represent written documentation. In particular, text messages can often be the most incriminating pieces of evidence because they are regularly composed at the spur of the moment and can reflect raw emotions."

Text messages seem to be among the most damaging and frequently cited evidence taken from cell phones. But since our smart phones have become an extension of ourselves, these devices collect evidence on us in a number of ways.

According to the survey, here is how often various sources of evidence from smart phones are used in family law cases:

  • Texts: 62 percent
  • Emails: 23 percent
  • Call histories/phone numbers: 13 percent
  • GPS data: 1 percent
  • Internet search histories: 1 percent

Our digital footprint is deeper and more defined than most of us would expect. And whether we like it or not, digital information which we think is private can sometimes be exposed and used against us in a divorce or child custody battle.

Source: MSNBC, "Divorce lawyers see more phone evidence, especially texts," Athima Chansanchai, Feb. 10, 2012

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