Technology has changed the divorce landscape. Many dissolution actions are fraught with deceit, lies, and indiscretions, therefore it should be no surprise that untrusting partners that have been victim to these ills have found their own means of uncovering the truth. There is a trail of information that follows each of us wherever we go and that is not going to change. The average person today can become the sophisticated espionage artist of a decade past.
Emotions tend to run very high in cases where someone is potentially losing their lover, children, and property. It is common to blame the other spouse and there is a natural inclination to gain an upper hand. Clients want to expose just how bad their other spouse really is. Unfortunately, it’s the client who wants to reveal their ex’s shortcomings, who will likely end up reflecting poorly in the eyes of the court.
In the era of no-fault divorce, the question may ultimately be, “what good is the information”? Illinois courts aren’t going to punish a cheating spouse. For example, the court will not alter the determination of parenting time, spousal support, or the allocation of property based on who is most blameworthy in causing the divorce.
The only time that the evidence may be relevant is if there is a demonstration of domestic violence which may affect parenting time, improper spending which may be deemed the dissipation of marital assets, or the hiding of assets which could alter the allocation of property. Be that as it may, any evidence obtained, however relevant, is likely to be inadmissible.
Essentially, cyber stalking your spouse is unlikely to yield any reward and riddled with risk. The spying party may be subject to criminal and civil penalties. The evidence obtained is probably inadmissible and illegal. Courts will not favor such methods and will likely frown upon any fruits of the labor.
There are other methods of obtaining the same information lawfully. For example, social media posts and text messages can be obtained in the discovery process. Moreover, subpoenas and depositions can bring to the light the same facts, but in a manner favorable to your client.
Marie Sarantakis is the Principal Attorney of Sarantakis Law Group, Ltd. Ms. Sarantakis concentrates her practice in family law. In addition to her work in the courtroom, she is versed in alternative methods of dispute resolution as a mediator and Fellow of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. She was recently recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star, named as one of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys Under 40 in Illinois by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and featured as a Fellow of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.
Ms. Sarantakis is active in the legal community and serves as Chair of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Children & the Law Committee, an elected Assembly member and Young Lawyers Division Member of the Illinois State Bar Association, and on the Board of Governors of the West Suburban Bar Association. She also serves as a Young Professionals Board Member of Illinois Legal Aid Online and as an Associate Board Member of the Lawyers Assistance Program of Illinois.
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