Technology in the legal field lets lawyers hold remote meetings and attend virtual courtrooms.
Technological developments also impact family law, especially with regard to divorce proceedings. Before modern forensics tools, authorities relied on physical documents to establish paper trails. Sifting through the paperwork was laborious at best. With digital tools lawyers are able to reduce the time and effort it takes to organize and analyze evidence.
Many divorce lawyers are hiring digital forensic experts to collect electronic data and find clues that may be useful to their client’s cases.
This article considers how digital forensics is used in the context of divorce proceedings.
What Are Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics encompasses the identification, extraction, examination and preservation of electronic information. Sometimes the information could be vital during investigations or litigations. The electronic data can be extracted from computers, cell phones, smart appliances, laptops, and other digital devices. The main reasons for using digital forensics in divorce proceedings include the following:
- More evidence: Divorce attorneys can use digital forensics to gain insight into digital information.
- Reveals motive: Digital evidence collected can enable lawyers to look into the minds of the divorcing parties. It can help unveil useful information on what they do, why, and how.
- Overrides privacy and deletion: It can recover deleted files and information hidden behind privacy settings. This provides divorce attorneys with necessary information that they could admit in court to substantiate their client’s claims.
- Establish credibility: Information collected can confirm the truthfulness of allegations made by divorcing parties. It enables divorce attorneys to establish the facts that they can use in building a robust and accurate case.
An important aspect of digital forensics is the analysis of metadata that contains detailed information about the underlying data that one cannot easily deduce just by looking at it at first glance. This is information about the data such as the author, creation date, and size of the file. Information from system logs, caches, deleted files, databases, and past hard drive activities can also provide additional clues.
Its Application in Divorce Cases
The extracted digital forensic evidence helps reveal many aspects of divorce cases and even affects their result. Electronic transactions like communication, finances and online activity provide valuable information on the attitudes, motives and interplay of concerned parties.
This information may help in issues like property or asset division, spousal support, child custody, and more as determined under the law, or by mutual agreement of both parties as part of the divorce settlement. Listed below are some of the ways digital forensics can influence divorce proceedings:
Digital forensics experts can help lawyers ascertain the whereabouts of a marital couple by analyzing metadata associated with the social media posts of one party on location-based apps as well as other relevant information sources. It is through this that they are able to come up with appropriate time schedules which either support or refute some of the evidence presented in addition to supplying relevant data concerning vital divorce issues like child custody and maintenance. This could be particularly important when there is an injunction such as a court order that requires a parent not to remove their child across a specific zone boundary without the authority of the court
Proof of Infidelity or Misconduct
Social media data from individuals’ personal social media and email accounts, text messages and other sources can be retrieved and analyzed to uncover conversations, messages and photographs that could help reveal instances of adultery or other potentially harmful behaviors such as bad parenting habits, addiction, abuse, or harassment. It can also be relevant to child custody, spousal support or restraining orders and injunctions aimed at preserving the safety and well-being of parties involved in divorce proceedings.
The parties to a divorce may choose to take measures to minimize their losses and make better claims on their divorce settlement including hiding some assets from the marital estate, downplaying their own wealth or exaggerating that of their spouse. These unfair practices can be revealed by digital forensics, providing for a more equal division of property and financial provision after the divorce. The digital footprint provides information about an individual’s assets, which include emails, bank statements, and other financial transactions. This data can help to locate hidden funds or properties highlighting any financial misrepresentation.
More importantly, digital forensics can identify financial irregularities that have gone undetected. Unreported assets and liabilities could serve as sufficient evidence establishing the other party’s financial irresponsibility. This will also create a more comprehensive picture of the nature of the divorce case, allowing attorney’s to come up with a more effective legal strategy. The costs and time it takes to reach a proper settlement will also decline significantly.
Divorce attorneys should never underestimate new technology in helping them win even the most complicated cases. Harnessing these tools can amplify a lawyer’s skills and raise their success rate. Decision-making becomes easier, and the outcomes more ideal.
Digital forensics can play an important role in divorce proceedings. It is important to follow the correct procedures when collecting electronic information. If you use invasive investigation methods that breach privacy rights, or obtain data by illicit methods such as spying or through unauthorized entry, then not only can this affect the admissibility of the gathered information as evidence, but it can also jeopardize the outcome of your case. To ensure a fair and just outcome, it is advisable to consult a divorce attorney who specializes in digital forensics.