Can Your Cell Phone Be Used Against You in a Divorce in Tennessee?I admit that I am as guilty as anyone of checking my phone all day long. I look at messages from my family, from my clients and from my office (when I’m not in), check the sports scores, and sneak in a game or two of Words With Friends when I have a few minutes to spare. I like actually using my phone to speak to people more, but in today’s world, texting is king.

That being said, I want you to know that I understand how easy it is to get wrapped up in a passionate or heated discussion on your phone or on social media. But as a Maryville divorce lawyer, I’ve seen too many people suffer serious drawbacks during their proceedings because of what is on their phones. In Tennessee, your phone or mobile device can be used against you, and it can cost you everything.

Collecting and documenting evidence

If you are the one being harassed or hurt by your soon-to-be-ex, one of the smartest moves you can make is to take screenshots of the texts, pictures or social media posts and save them in a file. Depending on which judge you see, we may need to print those screenshots out.

But remember the old song, “anything you can do, I can do better:” your texts, posts, videos and pictures can also be screenshotted by your ex and printed out for a file. Either side may ask for a call and/or chat log or history, and phone companies (when subpoenaed) will comply with that request. Any “evidence” that you thought was gone because you deleted it, might not actually be gone at all.

Your phone, like your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, may contain valuable information that could affect the outcome of your divorce – for better or for worse – in ways you don’t expect. For example: if your phone records you playing a video game for six hours when you are supposed to be spending time with your child, it is conceivable that a judge may see this as a lack of involvement in child rearing on your behalf, either because you let your child play a video game for six hours, or because you chose to play that game instead of being with your children. If your phone contains information linked to alleged drug use, or has more intimate pictures of you or a new beau, you may also face serious repercussions.

In the end, what is on your phone could say more about you than you’d like, and the picture it paints may not be that flattering. It is a good idea to stick to using your phone as an actual phone, and to avoid any less-than-suitable activities that can be reviewed by a judge.

If you do have some sensitive items on your phone, come see me in my Maryville office. I don’t judge my clients – never have, never will – and by discussing any potential problems that might arise, we can work together to get a handle on them right away. Please contact my office to schedule a consultation time: Kevin W. Shepherd, Attorney at Law.

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