You would have a hard time finding a single divorce lawyer in the United States who did not hear about cheating spouses leaving digital evidence on a daily basis. After all, with today’s smartphone technology, we’re virtually attached to our phones. Few people leave their phones in their cars on purpose – many people won’t walk from one room to another without their phone by their side!
It’s our constant connection to our smartphones that’s changed the way cheating spouses are caught. Forget old-school private investigators; all it takes nowadays is a technically savvy, yet suspicious spouse, to reveal an adulterous spouse’s cheating ways.
Not surprisingly, social media plays a huge role in today’s affairs. These days, spouses are “hooking up” with old flames on Facebook and meeting new ones on everything from Facebook to Instagram to Tinder.
The thing is, people are so connected and dialed-in to their phones, emails, apps, and social media accounts that when they cheat on their spouses, they almost always leave digital bread crumbs of evidence in the form of:
- Digital images
- Social media posts
- Text messages
- Direct messages on social media
Even if a cheating spouse tries hard not to get caught, they often lose. For instance, a man can meet a woman while travelling on business and even though they didn’t exchange numbers, she can easily “stalk” him on LinkedIn, find him on Facebook, track down his wife and then send her a direct message about the night they spent at a hotel together – it’s that easy for a cheating husband (or wife) to lose control over a situation.
Can an Innocent Spouse Use the Evidence?
Here’s the thing – even though innocent spouses are very good at hacking into their cheating spouses’ phones, emails, and social media accounts, what most of them fail to realize is that any evidence obtained is likely inadmissible in divorce court and will have NO bearing on their divorce proceedings. Why is this?
A California couple may be entitled to 50/50 of the marital property, but that does not include a spouse’s smartphone or personal accounts. This is because there are strict state and federal privacy laws that protect cheating spouses’, their phones, their text messages, their emails, and their direct messages on social media.
So, even if you do discover your spouse’s affair on Facebook, there’s a strong probability that you cannot use any of the racy messages because they were “illegally obtained,” meaning you did not have your spouse’s express permission. In fact, if your spouse finds out and they’re angry enough, they could accuse you of violating their privacy rights and all of your skilled detective work could backfire on you.
Can Any Digital Evidence Be Used?
There is one type of evidence that can be used and that is public posts on a social media feed, such as Facebook or Instagram, but such posts usually impact property division (if your spouse wasted marital assets on their boyfriend or girlfriend), or child custody (if your spouse’s actions and posts indicate they are not fit to have primary custody.