BALTIMORE, Aug. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the rise of the popularity of the internet, instant messaging, text messaging and the use of GPS systems, electronic evidence is being used more and more in litigation. Technology is having a huge impact on our lives and also the way many divorces are being litigated.
Recently 88% of the members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) indicated that they have seen an increase in the number of cases using electronic data during the past five years. Emails were the most common form of electronic evidence offered in court according to AAML president, James Hennenhaefer. Electronic evidence is being used for many purposes including detecting hidden assets, financial misconduct and infidelity.
Monica Scherer, a partner with Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, warns that social networking sites are becoming a strong tool lawyers use in divorce proceedings. Ms. Scherer heads the firm's family law practice. She concentrates her areas of client representation in the realm of divorce, child custody, alimony, marital property division, child support, visitation, paternity, adoption, guardianship, jurisdictional disputes (including international child custody disputes), and interstate child custody and child support matters.
"People who use social networking websites to send flirtatious emails to people, who are not their partners, are often lulled into a false sense of security that they are doing nothing wrong because correspondence is electronic and therefore isn't real life," Ms. Scherer said. "Snooping in another's email account is not uncommon. A Google survey indicated that 27% of women and 21% of men admit to having done it."
Currently over 150 million people regularly use social networking sites, such as My Space and Facebook, and the membership to these sites is exploding.
Somewhere between 250,000 to 300,000 new members join My Space and Facebook each day. Romantic electronic conversations that a party naively believed would remain undetected can, if found, become very harmful. Case in point, the story in the Detroit Free Press about Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick alleging that text messages made on a city issued pager show romantic banter between him and former chief of staff. That investigation continues. The "fallout" could include criminal prosecution against the Mayor for perjury based on his testimony in a recent police whistle-blower jury trial about this "relationship."
"While many attorneys believe that the use of electronic evidence may not lead to a huge increase in the divorce rates, most believe that it will make the lawyers job easier since people tend to be much less careful about what they may say in an email than they would in other conventional correspondence," Ms. Scherer said. "I advise clients not to put anything on a social networking site that they would be ashamed to see on the front of the New York Times and often advise to shut down their accounts during litigation so they are not tempted to post something that may ultimately come back to haunt them."
For more information or any family law related questions, please contact Monica at [email protected]
About Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White
Ms. Scherer is part of the STSW team, an AV rated law firm by Martindale-Hubbell. STSW, a full-service law firm, is widely regarded as one of the premier litigation firms in the mid-Atlantic region. They have achieved extraordinary success for their clients across Maryland and throughout the United States. For more information about the depth and breadth of their services, please visit www.mdattorney.com.
SOURCE Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White