In the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the usage of digital evidence in divorce cases. Seven years ago, over 90 percent of divorce lawyers reported seeing more text messages used in the courtroom to prove infidelity or an abusive relationship. Given how many more couples use cell phones today, that usage rate doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
However, Tennessee courts have established that simply having texts that proves that proves the other spouse is less worthy of child custody or the marital assets aren’t always enough to gain the advantage. Depending on the content of the text messages themselves and how the accusing spouse acquired them, the defending party may be able to turn the case around.
Even though text messages have become crucial in thousands of divorce cases within the last decade, the methods in how one spouse collects them have come under question. Even if your spouse grabbed your phone while you weren’t looking and captured a screenshot is considered questionable in the court.
Some methods are blatant invasions of privacy that can put the accusing spouse in the hot seat. If they managed to hack your device or intercept any electronic communication without your knowledge or consent, then they could potentially face criminal charges.
Spouses are better off waiting until they file for divorce before trying to uncover revealing text messages. Attorneys can request a subpoena from the phone company or hire a private investigator, but they can’t do either of these when there’s no legal case pending.
If your spouse believes you cheated on them with another lover, then they and their attorney might find a way to see your text history with the other party. However, it is ultimately up to the court on whether the evidence they present holds up.
Even if your texts hint at slight flirting between you and your colleague, it might not be enough to convince the court of adultery. They may try to make something out of the times you ask your friend to meet up for a cup of coffee, but that’s not guaranteed to go anywhere.
However, if your messages explicitly state romantic feelings or contain inappropriate pictures or wording, you could end up in trouble. Since several phone companies may only reveal the last couple of days of your messages, you may want to decrease digital messaging with the person they suspect you’re cheating with.
Digital rights in a divorce case can get confusing since they vary from state to state. If you need help understanding what Tennessee’s policies are on the matter, contact a family law attorney that has experience dealing with digital issues in a marital dispute.