Fifty per cent of relationship cheats are caught out by technology, says Yorkshire Lawyer

Relationship separation

01.11.2006

Increasing numbers of relationship cheats in Yorkshire are being caught out due to advances in technology, according to a leading lawyer.

Alison Straw, head of the family team with national law firm Irwin Mitchell at its offices in Queen Street, Leeds, said half the divorce cases her department handles where unreasonable behaviour or adultery is cited now involve email or text evidence.

Research shows around 85 per cent of people think technology has made infidelity easier, with most putting mobile phones and emails top of their list of affair-friendly gadgets.

Infidelity legal advice

Mrs Straw, said: "Text messaging and emails really took off in the mid to late 1990s and, since then, we've seen a huge rise in the number of divorce cases where incriminating messages of this sort are used to show one partner has been unfaithful.

"When accusing your partner of having an affair, it can often be a case of your word against their's, but texts and emails are proof of them straying. Sometimes they still won't admit it, but they aren't able to completely deny it."

Highlighting occasions when clients had provided this kind of evidence to help prove unfaithfulness by their partner, Mrs Straw said she had seen everything from recurring numbers showing up on itemised mobile phone bills to emails or texts sent to the wrong person by mistake.

Cheating partner

She said: "Itemised bills are an easy way to show how often and for how long someone's partner has been speaking to the other man or woman.

"People often become careless in other ways too. Sometimes a computer is left on and, no matter how careful the cheat thinks they've been in deleting their history, it can be discovered. The dreaded reply to all button is also a classic means by which someone's private email, outlining an illicit affair, can be sent to an entire office."

According to Mrs Straw, however, technology is also making it easier for people to cheat in the first place.

In May 2005, Abbie Gibson, former nanny of soccer star David Beckham, alleged she had seen raunchy text messages exchanged with supermodel Esther Canadas, while examining his mobile phone.

Mrs Straw said: "Emails and texts are silent forms of communication. It's not the same as having to sneak off to make a secret phone call or arrange a private rendezvous. For the most part, they can be sent quickly and discreetly until you get caught out, that is."

Relationship reconciliation

The Internet also presents its own opportunities for wayward spouses. The multitude of chat rooms allows new people to be contacted, with sites such as Friends Reunited offering the means to track down old flames and online dating sites providing additional avenues, for example.

However, Mrs Straw said: "Although discovering a spouse's infidelity, by whatever means, can undoubtedly be painful, some wronged partners still don't want relationships to end.

"I dealt with one case recently where a mature Yorkshire couple had been together for many years, when the wife started seeing an old flame from school, whom she'd contacted through Friends Reunited. The husband was understandably distraught at discovering this, but still didn't want the marriage to end."