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A Divorce Lawyer's Take on Tiger's Texting Troubles

Recent media coverage of the Tiger Woods scandal illustrates the speed with which a text message can go from a seemingly “private” communication, for the intended recipient’s eyes only, to Wednesday’s Access Hollywood, David Letterman’s Top 10 Tiger Woods Texts List on Thursday , and just about every celebrity gossip website and magazine out there. While Woods’ extramarital affairs would no doubt be at the center of a media frenzy regardless, the text messages provided by Woods’ lovers provides concrete evidence supporting what might otherwise just be speculation. With the text messages circulating the web, delving into the depths of what Woods mistakenly believed to be private communications can be as easy as typing “Tiger Woods text messages” into Google. Various verbatim exchanges between Woods and his alleged paramours are open to the public to read and analyze at their leisure. Unfortunately for Woods, text message exchanges with the subjects of his extramarital affairs are also accessible to his wife, and to the attorney she hires in the event of a divorce.

While it might not make the late night talk shows or celebrity gossip sites, texting frequently leads to big trouble for people who are not Tiger Woods. A text message with a paramour can reveal an extramarital affair to the unsuspecting spouse who accidently comes across it, or confirm the suspicions of a suspecting spouse who looks through their cheating spouse’s phone. After a divorce is filed, text messages provide powerful and often embarrassing evidence of infidelity by the cheating spouse during the marriage.

In today’s world it is easy to be seduced by the ease and immediacy of text messaging. Texting can be particularly appealing to those involved in extramarital affairs due to the illusion of privacy this method of communication offers. People text things that they may not feel comfortable saying in person or over the phone (for example, “sexting”). But they often don’t realize the extent to which text messages are accessible by people other than the intended recipient. Texting, like e-mail, credit cards, and phone bills, leaves a trail. Telephone companies keep records that can be subpoenaed and used as evidence of infidelity in a divorce proceeding. Also, there is nothing to prevent a scorned or opportunistic lover from saving the messages, sending them to the cheating spouse’s husband or wife, or in Wood’s case, leaking them to popular media outlets for publication.

For the cheating spouse, the moral of Wood’s texting indiscretions is that texting can spell big trouble for you, in your marriage and in your divorce. For the spouse who is cheated on and his or her attorney, use the cheater’s texting troubles to your advantage as great evidence for your adultery claim.