It should be no surprise to anyone that there is no such thing as private texts in a divorce. The whole world is making quite a bit of noise over the recent revelations of eavesdropping in the news. It seems it’s unbelievably easy for Pegasus to download content from any phone. It’s late to be outraged as far as I’m concerned. For a long while now, I’ve been saying that there is no more privacy in the world and we shouldn’t expect any. Not that I like living with a lack of privacy but I am realistic. I understand that there are not many things that go under the radar anymore.
So, what happens when accessing data is part of the divorce process – when evidence comes from the phones and computers of one of the spouses?
A woman filed a claim against her spouse and his sister as part of the property division of a comprehensive divorce, in the courtroom of Judge Esperanza Alon of the Haifa District Court. The woman was demanding partial ownership of the house.
The man and his sister claimed that the woman had no rights to the apartment even though the couple had lived there during their marriage. He said it was because the apartment belonged solely to his sister and was therefore not divisible.
The woman brought the man’s text messages to the court as proof of discussions he’d had with his own mother about how they could hide her right to the property.
The father appealed the inclusion of the texts saying that the woman only got access to them after she forced their daughter to go through his phone and get that information.
Refuting the man’s claim that the woman had asked their daughter to get information from his phone, the woman countered that their daughter had been playing with the phone when she came across the disturbing correspondence. The daughter felt horrible about what she had seen and decided on her own, to pass it along to her mother. The woman also argued that the man did not bring any evidence to support his claims of a breach of privacy. She also said that ignoring this evidence could cause a real miscarriage of justice. According to her, the severity of the invasion of privacy in this case was not as serious and severe as the man described it to be.
The judge, agreed that it was indeed, not as serious and severe as the man described. The evidence was only submitted for the purpose of refuting the man’s claims and summoning his and his mother’s testimony regarding the woman’s apparent rights to part of the residential apartment. In such a situation, the judge said, there was room to accept the evidence.
Judge Alon concluded that the decision of the Family Court to allow the texts was within the bounds of reasonableness of judicial discretion and in this case, it was appropriate that the protection of privacy be withdrawn to ensure a fair trial.
One of the things that can strengthen a case is evidence that’s gathered even before starting the divorce. Therefore, I give all my clients my booklet “Diary for the Evaluation of Divorce” and recommend they go through it as an early preparation for their evaluation of divorce and if they move forward, the divorce process.
You can download a free copy of the diary from our website here.