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Three ways technology impacts divorce

Emails, social media and smart home products can all play a role in divorce proceedings.

Many technological advances make life easier. New applications are available that can sync smartphones with appliances in our homes, allowing us to adjust the heat or shut the garage door from afar. Some devices, such as smart home devices like the new Amazon Echo, allow users to issue a voice command from anywhere in the home. The device recognizes the command and responds, playing a favorite song or making a phone call as instructed.

A certain amount of this data is recorded, and these recordings are currently at issue in a number of court cases - but this is only one of the many ways technology can impact proceedings like a divorce. Three specific examples include:

  • Emails and text messages
  • Social media
  • Smart home products

It is important to be aware of how these advances can impact your divorce.

Divorce and emails: Write emails and text messages wisely

Emails and text messages are essentially the new written word. In addition to using letters and notes written as evidence in divorce proceedings it is more and more common to see emails and text messages. As a result, keep in mind that anything you or your future ex send electronically could potentially be used in the divorce proceeding. As a result, it is best to write out messages with caution and save those that you receive from your future ex.

Divorce and social media: Think before you post

Social media has evolved to become part of our everyday lives. It is not uncommon for people to post photos and updates about everything from the daily school drop-off or coffee stop to recent vacations or purchases. These posts also have the potential to show up as evidence during the divorce.

A common example involves one spouse making a claim that there is not enough money to make suggested child support payments. At the same time, this individual with alleged financial difficulties is posting photos of extravagant vacations. In some cases, these photos could be used to support the contention that the individual has the funds available to cover the requested child support payments.

Divorce and the Internet of Everything: The next step in technology impacting divorce

The Internet of Everything is a term that refers to the ability to have everything connected to the Internet. The lights in our home, the garage door, the furnace, even kitchen appliances can be connected to the Internet. This allows the user the ability to adjust the setting on their heat, turn on or off lights and otherwise control things from afar.

It can also result in the inadvertent gathering of evidence.

Take Amazon's new personal assistant device, the Echo. As noted in a recent piece by NPR, this device was a popular gift over the holidays. The device works by listening to its surroundings for a trigger word. This word, generally "Alexis," triggers the blue light to turn on and results in the recording of any spoken quarry.

The recordings are currently at issue in a number of court cases. Should these recordings be released as evidence? Are they private? These are the issues that courts are attempting to navigate.

Tips for those going through divorce

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to these advances for those going through divorce. When used wisely, this technology can help provide evidence to bolster your case. However, it is also important to note that a single email sent when emotions are high can do significant damage. As such, those going through divorce should use technology wisely. It is generally best to proceed with the realization that anything sent could be used in the divorce case against you.

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In 1998, Steve Buhler left the downtown law firm where he had worked for several years and opened his own practice. He is pleased with the personal service he is now able to provide his clients. Steve Buhler has handled a variety of cases in courts all around the State of Utah....

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Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law
3540 South 4000 West Suite 245
West Valley City, UT 84120

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