USA Today published an article in yesterday’s edition (2/14/08) about electronic messages promulgating a divorce or at least, being used as evidence. According to the article, about 88% of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers say they’ve seen an increase in the number of divorce cases using electronic data as evidence during the past 5 years. The evidence is being used to catch people in the midst of affairs and hiding assets, such as buildings, to avoid having to divide the same pursuant to a divorce proceeding.
Lawyers are also looking at MySpace and Facebook pages as well as electronic calendars and other computerized data. Also, spouses are “email snooping,” that is, looking at a spouse’s private email and text messages. Look at what happened to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick–he and a former chief of staff are under investigation after a newspaper revealed contents of their text messages on city-issued paging devices.
The article notes that electronic evidence probably has not led to more divorces but makes evidence gathering easier. The upshot is: be a sleuth if you believe funny stuff is going on; be discreet if you are doing the funny stuff.