Divorce in the Digital Age
A survey conducted just two years ago by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that 66 percent of the online divorce evidence they used comes from none other than Facebook. You can imagine what the rate is today.
Technology can benefit those going through a divorce through easy access to online resources and support groups. It can make it easier for couples to avoid co-parenting conflicts through the use of shared social calendars, emails and text messages. However, it can also worsen conflicts and is increasingly used as a weapon in hostile divorces.
- Social media. In the past, lawyers hired private investigators, going to great lengths to obtain information that is now readily available by logging onto Facebook. Although New York is now a no-fault state, incriminating information regarding infidelities and general character traits can still be useful in child custody disputes. The AAML survey indicated that from 2005 to 2010, 81 percent of its 1,600 members used information obtained from social networks to establish improper behavior from online flirting to posting negative comments about spouses, and more.
- Electronic records. Keep in mind that electronic records of text messages, cell phone calls, GPS tracking and E-Zpass records may be used to find out who you have been seeing, what you have been saying, and where you have been.
- Dividing technology and virtual assets. In addition to deciding who gets the computer, iPad and smart phone, you must find ways of dividing marital assets such cloud access to family photo albums, the iTunes collection, and pre-paid Netflix and other online accounts. (Some people actually fight about who gets the Farmville chickens!)
- Spyware. A technologically-savvy spouse may be capable of snooping and even altering your emails and other communications. Although illegally-obtained information will likely be banned as evidence in your divorce proceedings (and may subject the user to criminal charges), you should remain aware of the damage that spyware and other snooping methods can do.
Divorcing couples are strongly advised to refrain from posting anything relevant to their divorce on the internet and to change all of their passwords on a regular basis. If you have questions regarding the use and division of technology in divorce, call my office for an appointment.