[Pre-Article Commentary: This is one of the best divorce tips I could possibly give to my potential Rhode Island Divorce clients whether I represent them or coach them. Though I didn't write this I'm glad it is being brought to the public's attention. Think before you act. - Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall]
Article By: Patricia Reaney
REUTERS Saturday February 25, 2012 9:37 AM
NEW YORK — Couples who might be headed for a nasty breakup should be careful about texting, which could end up as evidence against them in divorce court.
More than 90 percent of the top divorce lawyers in the United States say they have seen a spike in the number of cases using evidence from smartphones during the past three years, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
The rise in texting evidence follows a similar trend of two years ago, when the academy — 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 emails, you can think about and rewrite them. There is a window of opportunity to rethink what you are saying,” academy President Ken Altshuler said. “But text messaging is immediate. We get a lot of text messages that people send out without thinking.”
He described texts as “spontaneous venting” that sometimes haunts people because the words provide written records of thoughts, actions and intentions. Even text messages seen over a shoulder, he said, sometimes cause problems in hearings.
“I have used text messaging for cross-examination,” said Altshuler, who has also submitted texts as evidence. “I 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.”
Text messaging was the most common form of divorce evidence taken from smartphones, according to the academy’s poll, followed by emails, phone numbers, call histories, and GPS and Internet-search histories.
Altshuler thinks part of the reason for the surge in text evidence is that people think text messaging is safe because it isn’t easy to print.
“Not everybody can print out a text message. You have to know how to do it,” he said.
He advises clients not to use Facebook, which was the main source of divorce evidence from social media in a previous poll — but only about half follow his recommendation.
He is equally cautious about other emailing.
“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 want a judge to see, don’t write it down.”
Especially text messages.
“You can erase yours,” he said, “but it doesn’t mean they erase theirs.”
Read this and other great articles at The Columbia Dispatch
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