As previously reported, Smartphones have slowly but surely gained prominence and notoriety during divorce proceedings. What is it about Smartphones that have become an ally and an enemy in the courtroom? Apps. People love them. They are easily installed on a Smartphone, and can be very useful in everyday life. Developers create them and sell the ad space making them very inexpensive, or oftentimes free for the user. These apps encompass a wide range of usefulness for users. Apps such as email can make exchanging information with business associates, clients, or supervisors a quick and painless endeavor. It can be done in an instant. The moment the email arrives in your inbox, the receiver gets a notification, and a response can be made on the spot. Many assume that as long as no one is looking over their shoulder, this information is private. It is not. It is no more private than your home desktop, which is usually connected to your Smartphone. In fact, these emails can be read simultaneously from your phone in the subway, and your home office computer. This information is also admissible in divorce proceedings.
Facebook is another app that is viewable simultaneously from your Smartphone and home computer. While you are quickly exchanging messages with a friend and deleting them from your Smartphone, someone else may be at home on the computer reading them as they come and can screenshot them for later use.
There are a myriad of other apps that are available on your mobile devices and are desktop compatible. Social apps are a dime-a-dozen. Most of which, too, can be accessed from a home computer. These apps are especially dangerous when nearing or during a divorce proceeding. Many feel that online social endeavors are private, intimate, and exclusive. However, this is not the case. Most messages in these mediums are kept on record for a certain amount of time, in case they are needed by authorities. It is also easy to fake a profile, upload an image of someone else, and target a specific person in order to record their activities. It is not uncommon to find that your new found “friend”, is actually a spouse doing a little “detective” work. It also may actually be a detective!
Not only is information obtained from Smartphones a good source for evidence during a divorce proceeding, it is also becoming a prime cause for divorce proceedings, themselves. Whether you are in the midst of a divorce case, approaching a divorce case, or just “happily married”, beware of what you do on your Smartphone. Your spouse may not be tech-savvy, but with the right information, anyone can be a potential hacker.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.