Cellphones play an obvious role in dating, meet-ups, and generally keeping in touch ... but they also have an increasing role to play in our breaking apart. Data snaffled from phones and social media is flourishing as divorce evidence, and on the other side of the ledger, smartphone apps exist to help in the process of hanging up marital connections - there are apps to initiate, manage and survive a divorce as well as apps for assessing the costs and scheduling time with kids afterwards.
During the past three years, 92% of the top divorce attorneys in the U.S. have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence taken from smartphones. This finding is from a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).
"As smart phones 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," says Ken Altshuler, President of AAML. "Text messages can be particularly powerful forms of evidence during a divorce case, "because they are written records of someone's thoughts, actions and intentions."
The survey showed the most common forms of this type of evidence are text messages (62%) followed by emails (23%) and call histories (13%). GPS evidence of where you have been spending your time, accounts for only 1% at present but with its rapid take-up in smartphones it is no doubt set to soar. A recent study by AAML also shows that Facebook is currently cited in one out of every five divorce cases in the U.S.
Smartphone apps that aid in thinking through the issue of the divorce are also on the rise. One such app - Divorce? (GBP9.99) - focuses on mediation as a first point of action and tries to provide a practical, down-to-earth view of the divorce process. Lawyer and co-creator of the app, Peter Martin says it is intended to generate informed discussions and better communication. "People don't always think through the actual implications of divorce and this app makes them do that from the moment they start contemplating the idea," says Martin. "It might hopefully even encourage some people not to give up on their marriage so easily and try to work things out."
A similar approach with a focus on finances is offered by Divorce: Cost & Prep (US$9.99) - an app designed to help make you aware of the hidden as well as the direct costs and let you know what information and documents your lawyer will need you to gather. Another example - Estate Divider (US$9.99) - allows you to create an inventory of assets and liabilities and then calculate how best to divide them.
There are also apps designed help in managing changed circumstances after divorce. Especially for those who have kids, an app called ParenTime(US$2.99) may be worth a look. ParenTime aims to make handling your complicated family schedules much easier by helping parents maximize quality time with their children and takes into account the strict custody schedules that are sometimes imposed in these situations.
Here's a run-down of some other divorce-related iPhone apps that are in the wild:
Android Divorce Apps: For Android, there are over 200 divorce-related apps. A comprehensive list with descriptions can be found here.
By Kent Sutherland and Max Sutherland
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