At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we observe in present day, particularly post-9/11, our Society has traded privacy for safety and security. This is self-evident in full, detailed body scans utilized at some international airports.This is not good or bad, but a reflection of need and/or social policy of the day.
In addition, technology, ever less expensive and more effective, has also played a big role at the individual level: anything and everything anyone is doing can be streamed live—and is, memorialized on a server somewhere (through “the cloud”). Previously private, personal affairs, from child birth to sex acts, are routine viewing in the cyber-world.
It is fair to state vast amounts of already-existing e-material may be mined by almost anyone armed with a laptop and accessing and reviewing Facebook or U-Tube videos, for example. This new openness and technology is re-shaping divorce litigation.
For example, if alcohol consumption is an issue of contention, and there are on-line photos showing a mother or father drinking in the children’s presence, this may be important, relevant, and admissible evidence.iIndeed, it may make (or break) the custody case.
Precisely, the decline in cost in technology has changed domestic litigation on the professional level because private investigators have employed these technologies, with their trained investigative methods, for use in every-day divorce cases. In fact, it is somewhat routine to have a spouse followed and digitally recorded by a private investigator in places ranging from bars to the workplace.
This is only the beginning.
Computer key strokes may be recorded. A new significant other’s criminal history may be obtained from large private databases. GPS may track a spouse’s (or former) every movement. Each of these tools raise privacy issues and may, in certain cases, be illegal. Turning a divorce case into a criminal case is one that should give everyone pause.
Are you considering private investigation in a divorce case? This may provide the key piece of evidence. However, as with other considerations in litigation, there are tradeoffs. These must be considered. The most obvious is there is a finite number of dollars to spend relative to a case means and the legal objectives.
Such investigation may not yield the evidence. And in a small number of cases, this may backfire and paint the litigant, who is using this technology, as obsessive or fixated on the case and be inconsistent with, if not detrimental to, the case objectives, such as a property division or custody.
Ultimately, the culmination of a seasoned and skilled private investigator, with off-the-shelf technology, may change a case in a myriad of ways, better or worse. This, however, is one of many discovery tools available to divorce litigants and their lawyers. Private investigation has an important purpose and place, but not in every case–its use must be reasoned in use and considered with more traditional methods, such as obtaining a spouse’s medical and/or pharmacy records or credit card statements.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we hope you find this blog post about the use of technology in divorce litigation helpful, whether you are a divorce litigant or general legal consumer. If this blog stimulated your awareness of law and technology, it has met its goal. No longer can law be thought of a slow to change and use technology. Rapidly, the legal system is embracing technology to save money and aid fact-finders in reaching more accurate decisions.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice throughout the State of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou.