As people spend more and more time on digital and electronic devices (smartphones, laptops, ipads, and computers), digital information becomes more relevant in divorce cases. Social media, computers and cell phones become very prominent in Pennsylvania divorce cases. This is largely because they are a great source of evidence. It is not uncommon for clients to show up for divorce consults with large stacks of text messages from a spouse or Facebook posts. The field of Family Law is responding to this increasing prevalence of digital information with the increased use of computer forensic investigators/experts.
Computer forensic investigators are private investigators of the digital world. These experts use high-tech hardware to retrieve digital information stored on electronic devices and in “the cloud.” The term “cloud computing” means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.
The computer is not just an avenue to investigate and identify hidden assets, fund transfers, driving directions to safe deposit boxes, unknown credit cards, and bank accounts. It is the electronic trail to the opposing party’s life and character. Addictions from gambling, shopping, drugs, or pornography to extramarital affairs, manipulating finances in anticipation of the divorce, using eBay or PayPal used to sell assets, and spying on the spouse electronically can all be revealed through computer forensics. All of the foregoing can be discovered by a computer forensic investigator.
As digital and electronic information takes on a bigger role in Pennsylvania divorce cases, it is important for any divorcing spouse to know how such evidence may impact their particular case.