Cellphone Evidence Plays Larger Part in Divorce

Spouses who hide information from their mates have used various methods throughout the ages, from the surreptitiously mailed letter to the shredded credit card statement. Modern times, however, produce modern strategies, and that means cellphones and smartphones play a key role.

An American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers study recently showed that 92 percent of surveyed attorneys report an increase in divorce cases that incorporate smartphone evidence. The increase has occurred during the past three years.

Text messages proved to be the most common type of cellphone-originated evidence, at 62 percent. Emails followed at 23 percent, with call history at 13 percent and web search and GPS records at 1 percent each.

Cellphones can reveal much evidence about their users. As AAML president Ken Altshuler pointed out, text messages are records of a user's thoughts. Indeed, as the smartphone user writes his or her emotions into an electronic record, he or she may not imagine that such a written record will play a part in divorce proceedings.

High Stakes in California Divorces

As the main forum of communication for many people, smartphones provide a wealth of information about their owners' activities. People who suspect that their spouses are hiding communications from them should be wary when the cellphone never seems to leave the husband's or wife's side.

Cellphones and social media have provided additional opportunities for spouses to behave in ways they might wish to hide. Ironically, those same tools often contain a rich permanent record of the activities.

With so much at stake during a divorce - including child custody, child support, spousal support and community property division - smartphone evidence can back up a number of assertions during divorce proceedings.

Source: Gizmag, "Cellphones Star in Divorce," Kent Sutherland, Feb. 26, 2012.