Hiring a Family Law Attorney When Adopting a Child

Electronic Monitoring And Discovery: What You Should Know To Protect Yourself During Divorce

by Jamie Nichols

If you aren't aware of this yet, you should be: the internet is forever. It is way too easy to text, tweet, blog or post something that you'll come to regret when it's brought into court and presented to a judge. Once you've clicked the button that sends it on its way you have immortalized whatever it is that you've said or done, and if your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can find a way to use it against you, he or she will. Even if you already understand that, you may still not know enough about electronic monitoring and discovery to fully protect yourself. This is what you need to know.

1.) It is now routine for family law attorneys to use electronic discovery during divorce claims.

This can help you or hurt you. If you're alleging that your ex can afford to pay more spousal support but he or she is claiming poverty, the fact that he or she posted several times to a social media page from inside a casino during a recent trip to Las Vegas is certainly going to help your position.

However, if your spouse is claiming that you drink to excess and shouldn't be awarded custody of your children, the photos you posted online of you and your friends at dinner - cocktails raised - make great visual aids in front of the judge.

Social media is being used as evidence in court by more than 80% of divorce attorneys these days, so don't put anything online that you could have cause to regret. This includes:

  • angry or ugly comments about your spouse/ex-spouse
  • comments indicating that you feel violent or would like to see harm come to someone
  • pictures of guns, ammunition, or other weaponry (even if all are legal)
  • posts from hotels or vacation spots involving gambling
  • posts involving girlfriends or boyfriends 
  • comments about your marital/divorce problems
  • information about money, jewelry, shopping trips, and fancy dinners
  • pictures or funny stories involving your children that someone might say shows they were unsupervised or in an inappropriate situation
  • pictures of your children in diapers, or any state of undress, no matter how young the child

2.) Assume that anything electronic is being monitored.

If you are in the process of a divorce, assume from this point forward that your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and even the GPS in your car is being electronically monitored. There are plenty of apps and programs out there that are designed for just that purpose. 

Don't rely on the idea that your spouse isn't tech savvy enough to find a way to monitor your electronic use. He or she may have a friend that is far more electronically proficient than you realize, and programs that capture everything you do, keystroke by keystroke, aren't hard to use.

For this reason, you may want to take a few precautions, such as using a computer at a local library to change the passwords to your social media accounts, your online bank account, email, and credit cards. If you are going someplace and you don't want your location known, leave your cell phone and GPS somewhere else.

3.) Don't believe that it won't be seen, or can't be traced.

Even a photo of you smiling in front of a blank wall could be a problem later - if that wall is in your hotel room in Niagra Falls when you're supposed to be on a business trip to New Jersey. Metadata can be collected by electronic experts that can reveal where and when a photo was taken, how and when it got on the internet, and even whose cell phone took the photo (which would reveal who was with you) at the time.

4.) Avoid electronic communication as much as you can.

For however long it takes to resolve any issues surrounding your divorce or custody case, the best thing to do is to limit your use of electronic communication as much as possible. 

If you really want to make your divorce attorney really happy, close your social media accounts for the duration - or limit your posts to photos of grumpy looking cats. (for more information on family law, go to http://www.sjweisbrodlaw.com)