Computer Spyware, Facebook and Your Divorce

facebook-divorce-franklinattorneysDivorcing couples are increasingly using technology such as computer spyware and Facebook/Twitter to “keep track” of their spouses while their divorce is pending. Today, almost everyone has access to these types of technologies, and divorcing couples are using these technological advances to track their spouse or the spouse’s online activities and conversations. Adding to this problem is the fact that more and more people are willingly putting their private information on social networking sites. This information can potentially be used against them in a divorce proceeding. In this area, technology has outpaced the legal field’s ability to adapt and address these types of issues.

With so much information being exchanged through cell phones, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites, spyware has become an increasingly useful tool for spouses who wish to know whether their husband or wife is having an affair. These can also be used to discover undisclosed assets or other types of misconduct during a divorce. Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Phillip E. Smith stated that courts are going to struggle with deciding when to allow this type of evidence going forward.

As e-mails and other online communications and activities are introduced in court, judges will have to sort out nuances in the law. “For example, how much of a shared computer can litigants access? What if one party knew another’s email password before divorce proceedings began? And what are the repercussions for breaking those rules?” Protect yourself by changing internet passwords once a divorce is initiated, and stop putting so much personal information online!

In Tennessee, individuals are allowed to record any conversation, whether it’s by phone or in person, if that person is a party to the conversation. However, no one can record a conversation in which he or she is not involved. For example, you may record conversations between you and your spouse on the phone, even without your spouse’s knowledge or consent. You may not, however, leave a tape recorder in your spouse’s vehicle to record all conversations your spouse has with others when you are not present. Not only would that recording not be admissible in your divorce proceedings, but you could face criminal charges.

The rules regarding recordings are fairly clear, but the law regarding spyware and online communication is more questionable. Many believe that a husband who knows his wife’s e-mail or Facebook password prior to a divorce being initiated could save e-mails and other private messages and later use those as evidence. However, it is unclear whether e-mails or online information obtained using spyware, or software that records the user’s keystrokes, would be admissible.

Certainly, when an e-mail is drafted, the author intends that communication to be private. However, when spouses begin putting information on publicly accessible sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the spouse has no expectation of privacy. Clients who anticipate a divorce or who are currently in the middle of divorce proceedings should refrain from posting information that might be relevant to the case on any public forum. Some attorneys even go so far as to require all divorce clients to delete their Facebook accounts entirely.

Before using any type of recording device or spyware, you should talk with an experienced family law attorney to determine whether the evidence will be admissible in court and also to be sure you will not face any criminal charges because of your actions.

If you have questions about spyware, social networking, recordings, divorce, or custody, contact The Law Office of Lauren Wilson Castles today to set up your free consultation.

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