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Caught by the iPad! Could this Unintentional Spying Happen in North Carolina?

By Carolyn J. Woodruff, JD, CPA, CVA—North Carolina Family Law Specialist

One of my favorite stars is Gwen Stefani. She manages a life of motherhood, career with celebrity status, and fashion.  And, now she has just completed a divorce with her thirteen-year marriage to Gavin Rossdale, which produced Apollo (almost two); Kingston (age 9) and Zuma (age 7).  Rumors swirl that Gavin had an affair with the nanny, and Gwen apparently found nude photos of the nanny and plans for Gavin and the nanny to meet for sex—all found on the family iPad. The information on the family iPad yielded an abrupt end to this marriage.  Gavin had naughty behavior that uploaded from his iPhone to the cloud and downloaded to the linked family iPad.

Yes, this unintentional spying could happen in the North Carolina divorce. Why?  The iCloud (or any cloud), iPad, iPhone and other electronic devices are everywhere, and they link to each other.  While perhaps we all know this, we are trusting, I believe or maybe simply not observant.   There is the substantial risk that the children could see the naughty electronic evidence.

How could this iPad information be used in your case in Greensboro? There are three major times your now ex-spouse might be looking for “dirty” information on you:  1) custody; 2) divorce from bed and board; and 3) spousal support or alimony.   For a bonus, if Gwen had been in North Carolina she could have used the iPad in an alienation of affection and criminal conversation case against the nanny.

How do you preserve the iPad evidence? Can’t it be just erased from the iPad by deleting it from the iPhone and the iCloud?  Yes, this naughty evidence can be deleted.  Deleting evidence can be spoliation of evidence, and spoliation can be severely held against you in court.  If you do elect to eliminate the iPad evidence, you need to preserve a copy somewhere should you need it.

If you are the non-naughty spouse, you want to preserve the iPad.  Your first step is to disconnect the iPad from the iCloud or another cloud so that the information cannot be remotely deleted.  Then, if you can, cease using the iPad with the evidence and preserve it in a secure location away from your home.

You cannot just cut and paste the jpegs or other files to a new file on your computer as you are possibly interrupting the chain of custody.  You could hire a digital forensic expert to copy exactly the items on the computer and maintain the chain of custody, but this is expensive.

Gwen and Gavin settled their marital estate in October 2015, and during that same month she released the new single “Used to Love You.”  Her life blew up in her face in February, the day after the Grammy’s, and she used her music to work through the earthquake emotions of divorce.  “I don’t know why I cry/But I think it’s ‘cause I remember for the first time./Since I hated you/That I used to love you,” rings Gwen’s gut-wrenching song.

By the way, she got the house in Beverly Hills, and her attitude is positive energy.