As many couples in Texas have unfortunately discovered, the landscape of divorce is markedly different today than it was as little as a decade ago. Factors like advanced technology and social media have conspired to make divorce much more complicated, as more information than ever is available to be used against or in favor of each spouse. This makes it important for couples to understand the boundaries of privacy and the kind of information that can be admissible in a modern Texas divorce.
“Private” activity can often be used
Many people believe that personal digital communications or online activity are private and will not play a role in divorce proceedings. However, according to a Forbes article, activity or communications that may be subpoenaed and used in court include:
- Emails and text messages.
- Posts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Photographs through media like Instagram or Snapchat.
- Other social media activity.
These communications or posts may be used in ways that have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce. For instance, the article notes that a spouse who is hiding assets might give away his or her real financial worth by posting about a new job, an upcoming vacation or an expensive purchase, affecting the terms of the divorce settlement.
Although social media activity and other electronic communications can be used in a divorce, it is still important for spouses to recognize and respect privacy rights during a divorce. Unfortunately, it is becoming easier for spouses to lose perspective and do the opposite.
Spousal spying may be rising
Last year, the Houston Chronicle reported that, as high-tech tools become more available and affordable, a growing number of spouses are choosing to invade each other’s privacy. Devices like GPS trackers, hidden cameras, keystroke loggers and cell phone monitoring software give spouses unprecedented power to monitor each other. Family law attorneys and spy shop managers interviewed in the article reported a growing number of spouses taking surveillance into their own hands in recent years.
The way that spousal spying is viewed in court can vary by state and individual situation. Still, it is important for people going through a divorce in Texas to recognize that, even though a greater amount of information and activity may be accessible and considered admissible in divorce proceedings, that does not necessarily give an individual the right to spy on his or her spouse and personally obtain that information.
At the same time, it is important for anyone going through a divorce to exercise great caution when they choose to share anything online or by phone, even when the information is not being shared publicly. Divorcing spouses are advised to think twice before sharing anything through digital media that they wouldn’t want to share in court. In fact, don’t share anything through digital media that you don’t want read out loud in court in front of your grandmother.
If you are in the process of divorcing in Texas, you should make sure to speak with an attorney who understands the role of social media and other private activity in divorce. An experienced attorney can ensure that your privacy rights are protected while improving your likelihood of legally accessing information that can be used in your favor.