As the use of technology has increased in recent years, its impact on divorce has grown along with it. In some cases, internet usage has been the underlying cause of a divorce. More commonly, the use of electronic devices and social networking sites have played a role in the divorce process. Understanding the role of the internet and technology in the process is critical to protecting yourself as you move through your own divorce.
In the era of social media, where many people share (and overshare) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites, it is incredibly important to carefully consider what you post. Even if your soon-to-be ex does not have access to your social media, friends and family members can send him or her screenshots. Remember that anything that you put on the internet is forever, and try to limit yourself accordingly. Avoid making mean-spirited comments about your spouse, or posting pictures where you are partying or behaving in an irresponsible manner.
On the flip side, if your spouse is on social media, you can use those posts to your advantage. For example, you may find evidence that your spouse is hiding assets or that he or she is unfit for child custody. Screenshots or downloads of these posts, pictures or comments could potentially be used as evidence in your case.
Beyond social media, the internet often comes into play in divorce cases by helping to create a record of communications between spouses. In the past, in-person and telephonic communications meant that there was seldom a record of disputes between angry spouses, which often made it difficult to gather evidence of what happened during a dispute. In 2017, many spouses communicate via text or email, which makes it easy to put together a record of exactly what was said by each spouse and when it was said. While this can be incredibly helpful in building a strong case, it can also create problems if you are tempted into lashing out at your spouse. Remember that every word that you type may be used as evidence in your case, and try to maintain a cool head when replying.
Technology has also made a wide variety of electronic recording devices available, including smart phones. However, while recording an interaction with your spouse may seem like a good idea, doing so could land you in serious trouble. California is a “two party consent” state, which means that all parties in a conversation must consent to it being recorded. Under this law, neither you nor your spouse can record a private conversation without permission of all parties involved. Otherwise, you could face criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit — and the recording will not be admissible in your divorce case. (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&part=1.&title=15.&chapter=1.5.)
The internet has significantly changed the divorce process by making it easier for both sides to gather evidence and build a record of communications. While this can be an advantage for the savvy client, it can also be problematic for anyone who is not careful about their internet usage. To learn more about the use of technology and electronic evidence in divorce cases, contact Matthew Sheasby, divorce attorney Rancho Cucamonga at (909) 922-2543 to schedule a consultation.