New York - Couples who may be
heading for a nasty break-up should be careful about texting because it
could end up as evidence against them in divorce court.
than 90% of America's top divorce attorneys said they have seen a spike
in the number of cases using evidence from iPhones and other smartphones
in the past three years, according to the American Academy of
Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).
The rise in texting evidence follows
a similar trend two years ago when the AAML, a professional group of 1
600 members who handle prenuptial agreements, legal separations,
annulments, custody battles, property divisions and the rights of
unmarried couples, noticed a surge in evidence from Facebook pages.
"With e-mails you can think about and rewrite them. There is a window
of opportunity to rethink what you are saying but text messaging is
immediate," said Ken Altshuler, the president of the AAML. "We get a lot
of text messages that people send out without thinking".
described texts as "spontaneous venting" that can come back to haunt
people because they are written records of someone's thoughts, actions
Even a text message on a phone overlooked by
someone over their shoulder, if the person is credible, can cause
problems in divorce hearings.
"I have used text messaging for cross examination," said Altshuler, who has also submitted texts as evidence.
would say in the last six months there have been a lot of text messages
involved in litigation. For whatever reason, people are texting more
and not thinking about what they are texting."
was the most common form of divorce evidence taken from smartphones,
according to the AAML poll, followed by e-mails, phone numbers, call
histories, GPS and internet search histories.
Altshuler believes at least part of the reason for the surge in text
evidence is because people think text messaging is safe, because it
isn't easy to print out.
"Not everybody can print out a text message. You have to know how to do it," he explained.
Altshuler advises his clients not to use Facebook, which was the main
source of divorce evidence from social media in a previous poll, but
added that only about half follow his advice.
He is equally cautious about other e-mailing.
"Anything that is in writing, you have to assume that someday a judge
is going to see it. So, if it is not something that you don't want a
judge to see, don't write it down."
He added it applies particularly to text messages.
"You can erase yours but it doesn't mean they erase theirs."
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