Cheating Spouses Leave Behind Digital Trails

Cheating spouses and criminals seem to have something in common…leaving behind evidence. “Students of human behavior have speculated that people take ridiculous chances or are extremely careless while committing crimes because, on some level, they actually wanted to get caught. Such thinking seems to stem from writings by Sigmund Freud, who wrote about an unconscious desire to get caught and punished,” Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Later in Mr. Samenow’s article, he concludes that criminals don’t want to be caught, nor do they feel guilt about their behavior or the harm they inflicted. Instead, they regret getting caught. “In most circumstances, the only ‘help’ that they seek is to get dug out of a hole that, by their own behavior, they have created for themselves,” he writes.

Could criminals be compared to cheating spouses? In many ways, yes. While adulterous spouses may feel guilt and remorse about cheating, they are in the habit of being sloppy, of leaving behind a digital trail of evidence much like how criminals leave behind clues at the crime scene.

Cheating Spouses & Their Digital Trails

Most adults today are practically attached to their cellphones, which is where they conduct much, if not all, of their flirtatious communications. The thing is, once something becomes digital or happens online, it’s almost impossible to erase.

Suspicious spouses can recover deleted files, and racy messages can be screenshotted and saved elsewhere – all it takes is someone who’s halfway tech savvy to capture the digital bread crumbs of a cheating spouse. Of course, gaining access to this info can be challenging when the adulterous spouse refuses to part with their smartphone because they know an undeleted text message, email, direct message, or pic can get them in serious trouble.

Can You Use the Digital Evidence in Court?

Suppose you hacked into your spouse’s Facebook account or email and found evidence that he or she is having an affair with their co-worker. Can you use the evidence in court? You may be a great investigator but the evidence you gathered may be useless, except to confirm your decision to end your marriage.

You see, your spouse is protected by strict state and federal privacy laws and the information contained on their smartphones and email accounts is not usually admissible in a divorce case, not if you didn’t get your spouse’s express permission. Unlike marital assets, you do not have ownership or rights to your spouse’s emails, private texts and social media accounts.

“But what if my cheating spouse is seeking alimony?” Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, so an affair would not bar your spouse from receiving an alimony award. However, if your spouse wasted marital assets on their paramour; for example, if a husband financially supported his girlfriend, or if a cheating wife bought her boyfriend a new motorcycle, then it could affect property division.

Related: Does Adultery Affect Alimony in Colorado?


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Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).