Digital Devices and Divorce

Alabama man holding phoneThere seems to be no limit to the affect that technology and the digital age has on our lives. At the increasing pace that technology advances, it is no wonder that the legal world is changing dramatically. There is no more obvious of an example of the effect technology has on litigation than in divorces, and much of the technology is often used for nefarious purposes.

A recent article by NPR details the story of a woman who was stalked by her ex-husband through the use of a GPS tracker on her car. Alarmingly, because the car was still jointly owned and because the GPS tracker only followed public movements (despite all of this occurring after the divorce), no criminal charges could be filed.

Incidents like the one detailed in the NPR story are all too common, and the more that technology advances, the more common it will become. People leave clear digital footprints regarding details of their everyday life on a regular basis, such as checking in at a restaurant on facebook, or paying for gas using a digital debit card linked to a joint account to name only a few. In situations where a marriage is failing, a paranoid husband or wife may not feel that these types of digital footprints are enough evidence and will want to increase surveillance.

Some of the surveillance described in the article is clearly illegal, i.e. wiretapping or tracking computer software, because those programs record conversations and transactions to which the wiretapper is not a participant. So, it is lawful for a person to record a phone conversation or Skype session if they are a person involved in the conversation. However, it is illegal to record the same conversation if the person recording is not participating in the call or video chat.

In addition to tracking and spying software, technological advances have also made our lives more connected, especially with regards to means of communication. Email accounts, calendars, and phone numbers are generally all linked to one another through a number of devices (tablet, computer, TV) for the purpose of helping streamline tasks and keep hectic days somewhat organized. However, having everything synched may mean that conversations thought to be private on your phone are being sent and saved to the family iPad.

Do not hesitate to call our experienced team at Martinson & Beason with any questions you have about your separation or divorce. We value client confidentiality with the utmost sincerity and are ready to help.