In today’s digital society, people use a variety of technologies to assist and communicate in their everyday lives. Perhaps no other device has revolutionized how people communicate more than the cellphone. Today’s cellphones are essentially mini computers that allow a user to talk, text, take and share photos, complete transactions and pay bills. Given the multiple purposes cellphones serve, it’s no surprise their contents are frequently targeted in a variety of legal cases.

In recent years, cellphone records related to calls, texts and photos have been used as evidence in many divorce cases. Whether it be a nude photo sent to a lover or a less than complimentary text sent to an estranged spouse in a moment of rage, divorce lawyers and courts rely in part on this type of evidence to determine issues related to the division of property and child custody.

In the heat of the moment, many California residents have likely done or said things they later regret. However, when these sentiments are expressed via a text message or photograph, it can be particularly damaging. But what if an individual could send a text message without worrying about it potentially being used against them in the future? Enter new mobile apps like Snapchat and CYBER DUST.

Both of these apps allow users to send text messages which then disappear after a certain amount of time. An estimated 100 million people already use Snapchat to send texts and photos. Not surprisingly, the app is extremely popular among teens, many of whom have likely experienced the ramifications of having a text message or photo discovered or shared with a wider audience.

There are, however, ways to retrieve data sent via Snapchat, although a suspicious husband or wife will likely be forced to hire a forensics expert in order to do so. Not so with CYBER DUST. After a user sends a text or photo, the receiver has 30 seconds to view the message after which time it disappears. To date, no one has discovered how to retrieve data send via CYBER DUST.

As digital technologies evolve, so too must the legal system’s ability to both discover and appropriately handle related data and information. Spouses, who are going through a divorce, are advised to avoid sending any type of incendiary texts or photos as such evidence could have a negative impact on the outcome of a divorce.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Dust to Dust: Will Disappearing Text Apps Revolutionize Divorce?,” Natalie Gregg, July 28, 2014