A mounting body of recent research has revealed that social media and technology are increasingly used in divorce cases in the UK and worldwide. In 2013, over 80% of the divorce attorneys included in a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said that they had noticed an exponential increase in the amount of evidence collected from social media sites used in divorce cases.
A new survey carried out in 2015 by the same organisation said that a massive 97% of attorneys said that the use of evidence from smartphones and other wireless gadgets had increased over the last three years. 46% of this evidence was in text messages, 30% in emails and 12% in call logs and phone numbers. The top three social media sites used for acquiring divorce case evidence were:
- Facebook 41% of attorneys cited this
- Twitter 17%
- Instagram 16%
What can social media evidence prove?
There are many things that evidence from social media sites can prove in a divorce case. For example, a photo posted on Instagram of a former spouse on holiday in an expensive and exotic location can raise questions over their earnings, especially if they've pleaded poverty in court documents. Messages and photos on social media can reveal adulterous affairs and evidence of broken prenuptial agreements.
It can also be used to suggest that a spouse is a neglectful parent or guilty of unreasonable behaviour contributing to the relationship breakdown. Judges in the UK are also granting divorce laywers permission to access Facebook and Twitter accounts in search of evidence that can prove hidden wealth. If someone has lied about their earnings and financial situation to escape spousal payments, social media evidence could explain where money and assets may be hidden.
The Role of Technology in divorce cases
Not many divorce cases are simple, straightforward and amicable, which is why many divorcing couples have been using smart tech gadgets to gather the evidence they need to achieve the desired outcome. For example:
- Spy cameras, some often disguised as common household objects, can be used to prove adultery or undeclared business activities
- GPS car trackers are sometimes used to discredit a spouses claims about their whereabouts
- Data recovery devices can retrieve forgotten or deleted chat logs, which could provide evidence of an affair, while some can even detect pornography on a device
- Call recording devices can pick up exchanges that suggest undeclared business activities, hidden assets and even adulterous affairs, as well as vital verbal statements that could affect divorce cases.
Many of us think we have a right to privacy even on social media sites, but it's crucial to remember that these platforms are public, and so are the information, images and messages we share. If you doubt whether to press send, publish or share, dont do it.