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Divorce lawyers see more phone evidence, especially texts

As if to temper all the optimistic love chatter leading up to Valentine's Day, a survey of divorce lawyers has found 92 percent of them think there's been a dramatic increase in the number of cases using evidence taken from cellphones during the past three years.

Mobile phones have become not only a necessity for daily life but also a means of capturing what can be pivotal evidence when a marriage goes south.

"Texts, emails, and Facebook posts have removed a lot of the he said/she said ambiguity from the divorce process because they represent written documentation," Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told this morning.

"In particular, text messages can often be the most incriminating pieces of evidence because they are regularly composed at the spur of the moment and can reflect raw emotions."

The AAML — made up of 1,600 attorneys across the nation — specialize not only in divorces, but also prenups, legal separations, annulments, custody and other issues pertaining to love gone wrong.

The organization's survey found 94 percent of respondents noted that in particular, text message evidence had increased in their cases. (Only 4 percent said they'd seen a decrease and 2 percent, no change.) It looks like more and more spouses are keeping tabs on their significant other, particularly through the most prominent digital appendage, their phones. If a spouse seems to be attached at the hip with their phones, taking it to bed and to the bathroom, there's probably a good chance there's something on there they don't want you to see. 

"As smartphones and text messaging become main sources of communication during the course of each day, there will inevitably be more and more evidence that an estranged spouse can collect," said Altshuler, in a press release. And if this survey is any indication, they're not doing a very good job of erasing the smoking gun.

Texts make up the most common form of evidence taken from phones at 62 percent, followed by emails at 23 percent, phone numbers and call histories at 13 percent and GPS and Internet search histories at one percent each.

Trust and transparency aren't just limited to cellphones, as social media on multiple platforms has become a hot zone of marital discord. In the UK, a survey of that country's divorce petitions found Facebook to be the main culprit in a third of the cases. In the U.S., the AAML found 81 percent of members who saw an increase in social media evidence in 2010. 

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On Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who is also trying to keep her head above water in the Google+ stream.