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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Does an iphone app give grounds for divorce?


I blogged not long ago (Love replaces sex at top of divorce list) about research which suggested that adultery was no longer the number one cause of divorce in the UK. In 27 per cent of cases, the highest scoring answer according to the Grant Thornton survey was growing apart that ultimately led to a breakdown, overtaking infidelity in the top slot for the first time since the matrimonial survey began in 2003.

However, adultery is still one of the most common grounds for divorce. And it seems that there are increasingly accessible ways to catch out a spouse if a person thinks their other half is straying.

I read about a (potential) case in the United States where a husband, not convinced he was being told the truth by his wife about where she was off to, used a freely available iphone app to pinpoint her location. Said location was nowhere near where Mrs X said she was going to be and was, in fact, at the home of a colleague about whom the jealous husband had had suspicions for some time. The chap in question sent a gushing message to Apple thanking them for the Find My Friends app, adding for good measure that he would be seeing her at his lawyer’s office soon.

Does this constitute enough evidence to prove infidelity? I’m not sure what the exact rules on divorce are in the US but in the UK there is a requirement to prove to some extent that the other person has had an illicit sexual relationship. If the other party will not admit to this or if the circumstantial evidence is not strong enough, a family lawyer would advise a client to perhaps use unreasonable behaviour as grounds instead.

The advent of apps that can pinpoint where you are and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with location services that pinpoint where you are when giving updates, do raise some interesting issues. Is it an invasion of privacy to track where someone is, or is it completely unacceptable in a relationship that is not working as it should for one or other party to look for evidence that their other half is not being entirely truthful? And is information gathered from these sources proof of guilt, a lever to force a confession or simply innocent circumstantial evidence in some cases?

I’m not sure the law is keeping up with technology, though it would be wrong to suggest that frequent changes should be made to legislation to give absolute clarity on such issues. Clear guidance is useful for those contemplating or going through divorce though, and in the absence of case law, it is right that family lawyers should strive to provide as much clarity as possible on issues like this.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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