Within the past decade, many divorce proceedings in Louisiana have involved a different kind of expert witness: the family computer. Some attorneys have contributed to a dramatic increase in the investigation of social media in contested divorce cases in the past three years. They use it not merely to gather evidence against a client’s adversary, but to gain a better understanding of the client and the circumstances leading to the divorce.
Former congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin have been embroiled in a highly public divorce after Mr. Weiner’s electronic communications revealed his infidelities. With Ms. Abedin’s request for divorce came an investigation of her husband’s data, some of which became public. While most people will not have federal investigators scrutinizing their emails and texts, advisors recommend that people use their technology as if this were the case, especially if a divorce is on the horizon.
Deleting emails or photos prior to divorce proceedings is not suggested, since this may be interpreted by the courts as destroying evidence. However, some attorneys advise their clients to create new email accounts, submit untruthful answers to website security questions and make sure one’s devices are not synched with any to which one’s spouse has access. It is also important to be aware that one’s social media may be thoroughly examined by the spouse’s legal team.
Although a person may not be dealing with public scandal in the media, going through a divorce may still be traumatic and emotional. The best advice for those in Louisiana who are facing a contested divorce may be to seek and follow the counsel of an experienced attorney. A dedicated family law attorney will explain one’s options and rights and help the client make wise decisions about how to proceed.
Source: The New York Times, “In a Divorce, Who Gets Custody of Electronic Data? The Lawyers“, Jonah Engel Bromwich and Daniel Victor, Oct. 31, 2016