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Can Phone Records Affect a Divorce?


Divorces can be contentious and messy. If one spouse is trying to hide information concerning, for example, hidden assets, significant expenses, or an affair, a case can devolve into a deep examination of the parties’ personal lives and communications. Are there any circumstances under which phone records can be unearthed for the sake of a divorce? Read on for a discussion of when phone records might matter in a divorce proceeding, and call a savvy New Jersey divorce attorney for assistance with a New Jersey family law matter.

How to Obtain Phone Records

Legal cases have a phase known as the “discovery” process. During discovery, each party can ask the other to submit documents pertaining to issues relevant to the case. Discovery requests can be broad (e.g., “Any documents concerning the defendant’s financial holdings”) or specific (“The deed to the defendant’s Poughkeepsie residence”). Discovery requests aimed at third parties (parties not involved in the litigation) can be transmitted via subpoena, which is a legal order demanding someone produce documents or appear in court. Divorce attorneys can utilize subpoenas to obtain information relevant to the case that would not otherwise be obtainable.

A divorce attorney may, for example, subpoena a phone service provider for phone records pertaining to a party to a divorce. They may request call logs as well as text messages, emails, and other private information. If the sought-after information is relevant to the case, the court is likely to allow such discovery.

When Are Phone Records Relevant to a Divorce?

Phone records may be subpoenaed whenever the contents of those records are helpful in resolving an issue at stake in the divorce proceeding. There are a number of issues common to divorce proceedings that might benefit from private phone records. For example, during a custody dispute, one party might point to the other’s extramarital affair or current dating and living situation as evidence that that party should have lesser custody rights. Phone calls and text messages with the paramour might provide evidence to support that point, such as by showing that the romantic interest stays at the home with the children regularly.

Phone records might also be used to unearth hidden accounts and other assets. Wealthy parties often try to hide assets from a divorce in order to retain more of their wealth. Texts, emails, phone calls, calendar appointments, and other phone records could be used to track down these hidden assets and prove that one spouse was knowingly hiding them. Phone records might also be used to show extravagant spending to prove one spouse was wasting marital assets and should be entitled to a smaller share of the marital estate.

Seasoned Legal Help for Your New Jersey Divorce

If you need knowledgeable and considered legal help with property division, paternity, child custody, premarital agreements, child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.

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