The Heart of the Matter? Try the Hard Drive

Social media searches often provide electronic evidence in divorce cases — but make sure not to overlook the hard drive.

While Internet infidelity leaves its footprints in chat rooms and email, information essential to your divorce matter could also reside on a home or business computer.

New York follows a rule of equitable distribution. This means a court splits the assets and property of your marital estate fairly — not necessarily equally — by dividing wealth based on documents and evidence offered by both parties.

In many cases, one party deletes or revises important financial information stored on a computer. What can you do?

Forensic computer examination is essential to ensure the details of a marital estate are clear. During a divorce, consider requesting the cloning and/or imaging of hard drives from devices including:

  • Computers and laptops
  • Personal digital assistants
  • Cell phones and digital cameras

Even if business and personal information is deleted or revised, a forensic expert can usually restore data and offer testimony on the intended deception. Basic material reviewed during an investigation includes:

  • Saved and named files
  • Deleted and revised files
  • Temporary files
  • File slack that may contain unintentionally saved information

Courts take a dim view of parties who conceal assets and destroy evidence during a divorce matter.

Inside or outside of your computer, electronic data can influence custody, alimony or property division. As previously discussed in an earlier blog post, social media searches can locate unwitting — and potentially damning — comments that can be used in court. Thorough forensic investigation of a hard drive could also reveal useful financial or personal information.

When you need to get to the heart of the matter about the use of electronic evidence during divorce in New York, speak with an experienced family law attorney in White Plains.

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