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Electronic Discovery Upsets Status Quo: Is All Fair in Love and War?

By Nottage and Ward on May 23, 2012

In our previous blog post, we discussed how electronic discovery has made marital mischief harder to hide. In summation, it is because technological advancements have made it easier to trace. But who can look for it and can the discovery of deception by one spouse actually be used against the other?

Electronic discovery is finding its way more and more often into marital disputes. Oftentimes, an angry spouse does his or her own snooping to validate suspicions that the spouse is hiding something. But these investigative tactics are not necessarily legal and though discovering deceptive actions may still be used as leverage, they may not result in a more favorable divorce settlement.

Although there are still a lot of gray areas when it comes to how evidence can be obtained electronically for it to be admissible in divorce proceedings, typically, any information gathered from public or otherwise legitimate sources is legal. Using your spouse’s smartphone family GPS app to see where your spouse is, surfing through his or her Internet browser history, and browsing through a spouse’s social media account which you have access to through your own are all legitimate means of acquiring information electronically. Should you find any evidence with these tactics, you may be able to use them in court. But what of other, sneakier, means of electronic discovery?

Other methods of finding out what your spouse is up to include installing specific software, such as keystroke programs that record everything your spouse types and finding ways to hack into password-protected accounts. Even if you find the Holy Grail with these tactics, you likely would not be able to use them in court. And, if you are caught, you may also lose all credibility in the eyes of a judge. Such tactics have a tendency to hurt you, rather than your lying spouse. However, even if a particular piece of evidence may not be used in court, once discovered, you can explore legitimate means to find it or even use it as leverage in negotiations with your spouse.

If you understand how it can be used, evidence of your spouse’s hidden assets or other deceptions can only be an advantage in your Illinois divorce, which is why it is important to speak to an experienced dissolution of marriage attorney in Chicago about your suspicions, your actions, and your discoveries. The family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward can make sure that every piece of evidence counts.

Check back for the final post in our blog series where we discuss how electronic discovery is reshaping family law as we know it.

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