Since the dawn of cell phones, partners in domestic disputes who suspect their spouse is cheating on them want to see their partner’s phone records.

They want to know who their spouse is speaking to, when they talked, how many times they talked, and for how long. In a divorce case, this information is also obtainable in response to a subpoena to a cellphone service provider.

As technology advances, the user information that can be collected from a cellphone continues to grow.

Your Texting History is Almost Always Accessible

Since text messaging began, a person going through divorce wants to see not only who their spouse is calling, but also who their spouse is texting and the content of the messages.

While some carriers provide the phone numbers, dates, and times of incoming and outgoing text messages, some do not, and most all carriers won’t provide the content of the text messages (except in criminal cases by court order). As a result, text messages generally have to be obtained directly from the cell phones or the users of the cell phones.

Some people who backed up their text messages to a shared cloud account with their spouse are able to view their spouse’s text messages. Logistically, most people have to ask their spouse or their spouse’s paramour for the information, or to inspect their cellphone. Often times this has to be done through a court process to enforce the disclosure. Although some people delete their text messages from their cellphones, a forensic expert can often recover many of the messages.

When people discover that their text messages are vulnerable to being viewed, many people turn to apps to communicate where messages are not stored on any server such as “WhatsApp.” Those who think that their messages are safe and their actions can’t be traced by using apps are learning they are mistaken.

Your Phone is Tracing Your Steps with Geolocation

Most people don’t realize that almost every cellphone has GPS that is always tracking their location while their phone is on, or that nearly every app accesses their phone’s GPS.

Every time someone uses an app – whether to check the weather or as a “key” to open a secure door at their office – their location is tracked by that app, and the tracking may continue as long as that app is running. Dating, weather, and shopping apps are known for accessing a phone’s GPS. Even if you’re careful and adjust your app settings to not access your cell phone’s GPS, many apps are not diligent about this. Most apps don’t want to turn off their location tracking ability because they can sell this information for advertising purposes.

Protecting Your Data

A cellphone has a tremendous amount of information about its user, including where they have been, who they have communicated with, what they communicated about, etc. That information is stored in numerous locations, including directly on the cellphone, with the cellphone maker, with the cellphone service carrier, and with all of the apps used and accessed.

If you are going into a divorce, this means your records can be subpoenaed from a variety of places (although whether all of the information requested will be provided in a civil case remains to be seen), and may be available for purchase, if you know where to look. This information is likely to be sought in divorce cases when a person wants to learn about their spouse’s actions.

If you’re worried about your spouse being able to track your location, there are some simple steps you can take to try to protect your information:

  • Turn off your cellphone’s GPS
  • Adjust your cellphone settings to make sure your apps can’t access your phone’s GPS
  • Ask that your cellphone’s assigned advertising ID be reset
  • Consult with a forensic computer expert.

If you are concerned your spouse is cheating on you and want to know what you can legally do to monitor their activities, check out my article, “Can I Snoop To Figure Out If My Spouse Is A Dog?

For more information, contact Erin at 301-347-1261 or by email at [email protected].