In the past, contentious divorces often required the services of skilled investigators and even private detectives to gather critical evidence regarding a divorce’s less savory circumstances. To a large extent, the Internet and the technological tentacles it extends through mobile devices of every sort has eliminated the need for old-fashioned gumshoes and stakeouts of physical locations. In their place, individuals can often turn on their computers and find a wealth of damaging information about their spouses.
Social media: the not-so-silent killer
According to a recent American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, 20 percent of all divorces in the United States involve issues related to Facebook. As these statistics demonstrate, social media is clearly having an effect on American society and playing a larger role in the dissolution of marriages every day. Most commonly, social media provides the tool through which straying spouses initiate or maintain extramarital relationships that destroy the very fabric of their families.
An open book?
Many people fool themselves into believing that their activity online is private or that only their friends or close associates are privy to their online personae. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Over the last five years, 80 percent of divorce attorneys in the above survey claimed they’d seen a major increase in the volume of evidence culled from social networking sites.
A whopping 66 percent of lawyers in the survey credited Facebook as their main source of social media evidence in divorce cases, with other outlets such as Twitter rounding out the list. The pictures, messages and electronic data trails the average user leaves in such forums is often fodder and easy pickings for anyone with Internet access. Email, cell phones, text messaging and GPS data provide additional sources of information about spouses’ activities that may tip the balance in a divorce proceeding.
Forever is a long time
A harrowing bit of information that every technology user should keep in mind is that any message sent or received may in fact be archived somewhere. This means hitting delete gives a false sense of security, since the data may live on as cookies or sit on servers for undetermined periods of time.