Anyone who is surprised by the revelation that Congressman Anthony Weiner (I know, it’s impossible to ignore the obvious jokes here) sent lewd photos of himself over the Internet is being naïve. As a divorce attorney, this type of situation has become commonplace in the courtroom. And before anyone jumps all over the man for being a politician, let’s remember that he is a married man before he is an elected official. That fact will somehow be buried in the thousands of stories and jokes that will be written and told about the man.
Sadly, the Internet has given birth to a whole new method of cheating. Worse still the Internet leaves an indelible and very visible footprint, like the proverbial trail of popcorn in the woods, from cheater to cheatee, as it were. The Internet is abused all the time, every day all day long. What continues to astound is how people do not think they will be caught.
Eventually, every one slips. An errant post or message or text will set the alarms ringing in the head of a spouse and then its game on.
Sometimes there is no actual physical contact, but rather suggestive emails and photos. Many of my clients believe this type of cheating is hardest to ignore. Emotions will spill out in emails or quick text messages, and a quick photo of someone, whether they are clothed or not, feeds the desire to take things to the next step. It is heart-wrenching to read love notes your spouse sends to another person.
Until just a few years ago, if someone came to the office of Mejias, Milgrim and Alvarado with a hunch that their spouse was cheating, real gumshoe detective work would follow to try to prove grounds of adultery. Private investigators would spend hours camped outside of offices, restaurants, hotels—anywhere they needed to go to catch a cheater. Now, the first thing we do is check a Facebook page. All too often the evidence is right there.
New York State is now a “No Fault” state where a marriage must be irretrievably broken for six months. Evidence is necessary to prove this claim, and these days the court sees more Internet evidence than any other as proof a marriage is broken. If you think your spouse is cyber-cheating, or using the Internet, here are a are few things you must do to begin amassing evidence.
If you believe there is evidence on a site such as Facebook, take a screen shot of the page. This is a simple action that only needs one keystroke. The picture of that page can help prove someone is using the Internet to have an affair. Most important, all a spouse has to do is hit delete and the conversation may be lost forever. Taking a screen shot will preserve it in all its glory.
- Be aware of passwords. A marriage is, by law, 50/50. Many spouses have no problem letting their partners know any and all passwords they may have. If you think your spouse may be cheating using the Internet, ask him or her for their password so you can have a deeper trust for each other. The reaction may be a sign of other things.
- In New York State, Internet evidence is admissible in court under certain guidelines. You made need to hire and expert to preserve evidence. The ability for these experts to remotely access computers has mad it much more affordable to hire them.
- There are such things as privacy laws. You may not “hack” into your spouses telephone account or other electronic accounts if you do not have permission to do so.
- The world may be laughing at Rep. Weiner, but there is little humor in the situation. Assume that this can happen to you, and try to imagine how it would feel to know your spouse was engaged in this kind of behavior.
Sending an email may seem harmless, but the heartbreak and expense of divorce is very real. Before you “Friend” someone or take a picture of yourself to send, think of your spouse. Anyone who leaves this kind of footprint deserves to get caught.
And eventually, they all do.
This article has been contributed by David Mejias. David is a Partner at the law firm Mejias, Milgrim and Alvarado, P.C. and former Nassau County Legislator where he served three terms. There he led the effort to keep our children safe from sex offenders by sponsoring the toughest Megan’s Notification Law in New York State and sponsored legislation implementing residency restrictions for sex offenders.