As a recent article on USAToday.com points out, more and more divorces in the modern age involve electronic bad acts. As couples store and transmit increasing amounts of information electronically, through email, social media and text messaging, spouses are increasingly spying on each other’s communications, sometimes even illegally. Because of the speed with which this happened the law has found itself unable to keep up which has left many unanswered questions about what kind of behavior is acceptable.
A judge in Nashville, Tennessee notes that technology has “has resulted in a lot of evidence, not only of romantic involvement of one spouse with someone else, but it can also result in proof of undisclosed assets or responsibilities, financial misconduct.”
As this new type of information proliferates judges find themselves having to sort out subtle nuances. For example, how much of a shared computer is one spouse permitted to access? What if one party knew another’s e-mail password before divorce proceedings began? And what are the repercussions for breaking those rules?
The thorniest issues by far involve email and social media communications. Attorneys have had to adapt to the issues too and an experienced Charlotte divorce attorney would recommend that you chance your passwords when you begin divorce proceedings. One Nashville attorney is quoted as saying that “If you don’t change your passwords, you left them the key to the house.”
If one party knows another party’s password before the divorce proceedings, it’s possible that he may legally be able to read and save her e-mails during the proceedings. However, more extreme examples of snooping behavior, such as spyware or methods aimed at intercepting emails, are more legally troublesome. By going after all emails it can include confidential communications with attorneys and, as such, can result not only in civil liability, but also a criminal offense.
Even if criminal charges are not filed, the information obtained from snooping software could ultimately prove useless. Attorneys are able to object if certain documents have been obtained illegally and avoid having the evidence entered into the record.
Most attorneys also advise clients to avoid discussion of any sensitive matters that could become relevant in a divorce proceeding while on social media sites. Email communications might be protected due to the expectation of privacy, putting comments online on Facebook is certainly not private and the law would likely recognize no protection for such remarks.
To protect from such electronic snooping during a divorce, the matrimonial attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC recommend that you change all your passwords immediately. In addition to this precaution, there are companies that can check smartphones and laptops for any suspicious software that could be capturing information. If you are considering snooping it’s best to resist the urge and instead consult with your attorney who can file motions to legally obtain the information you’re after.
If you find yourself facing divorce and need the help of an experienced Charlotte family law attorney, contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828.
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