Many people wonder if couples counseling is right for them and their situation. When a marriage or partnership goes off course, whether suddenly or over time, deciding to see a counselor might be the smartest thing you can do to find renewed peace and love. When a partnership has been derailed, couples often hope that things will get better on their own. They continue on the same course, feeling the same anger, resentment or hopelessness.
A couple might feel their relationship is beyond a solution and believe ending the relationship is the only viable option. Counseling will help both parties explore whether each is invested in continuing the relationship, and develop strategies for moving forward. Therapy can teach couples conflict resolution skills and strategies to communicate better, teach the skills necessary to make arguing more productive, with the result of reduced anger and hostility. Couples can be taught the rules of “fair fighting.”
Marriage counseling can help families deal with stressors such as budgeting problems, parenting differences, or the division of labor around the house. It can also help families who are dealing with grief or loss issues. Dealing with an affair is an issue that can be addressed in counseling, bringing the couple to a clear understanding of the impact the affair has had on the relationship.
For partners who want to save their marriage, seeking counseling is a constructive starting point. In therapy, partners will be able to address both sides of an issue on a level playing field. Couples have the best prognosis when both partners are invested in treatment. Both people must be willing to look at themselves and the things that they each can change to help improve the relationship, and not just point the finger at the other. When a couple agrees to treatment, it can be the first step toward a happier and healthier marriage.
- Use Digital Forensics to Prove Your Case
Shelia knew something was amiss when her husband would close his computer windows when she entered the room. It was just one more thing in a list of behaviors that she found suspicious. Shelia was sure there was evidence on the computer that would either prove her husband’s innocence or guilt, but she just didn’t know how to move forward
Eric started to see an increase in text messages on his mobile phone bill. His wife seemed evasive when he asked about them. Eric suspected that his wife was having an affair, but didn’t know how to proceed.
Act Quickly to Hire an Expert
The Internet is an endless repository of information. Embarrassing, compromising information can often be remarkably persistent on hard drives, even after being deleted. Keep in mind, however, that electronic information, whether on computers, mobile phones or GPS devices and thumb drives can degrade over time. A computer forensics expert can help by using specialized techniques for the collection, preservation and analysis of electronic data with a view to presenting evidence in a court of law. Your best recourse is to hire a computer forensics expert sooner rather than later. Be prepared with the right questions:
- Is your forensic service licensed? In some states there may be a licensing requirement. Texas, for one, now requires forensics analysts to be licensed private investigators.
- Do you use forensically sound tools and methods that will hold up in court? Computer forensic services must use write blockers, mobile phone collection hardware and also software accepted by the industry to be accepted in court.
- Do you have the capability to collect evidence on site? There is usually only a short window of time to gather evidence from a device such as a phone or computer. The ability to go to the device rather than have it delivered to an office location is an important requirement.
- How will you handle and store the evidence you gather? Expert forensic service providers understand the importance of the evidence “chain of custody”. If they cannot explain how they will safeguard that vital chain of custody to insure the evidence admissible, look for another service.
- What will you deliver to me? At a minimum a forensic examination should include:
- Proper Chain of Custody
- Imaging and Verification of Original Media
- Detailed Examination
- Documentation of Findings
- Preparation of Examination Report
- Provide Report of Analysis and Findings to client
Target the Evidence You Need
Collecting electronic forensic evidence can be expensive and time consuming. Work with your attorney and private investigator to determine which kind of evidence will best advance your case and work within your budget. Forensic service providers call this process “triage”. Here are some sources of evidence you may want to consider:
- Computers – An obvious choice, but if the subject of investigation has a “reasonable expectation of privacy” with respect to the information on the computer, it may not be legal to gather the evidence. Your attorney or private investigator can answer this question. Note also there are social techniques for gaining access to the computer. It may be as simple as asking.
- Mobile Phones – Much useful information can be gathered from mobile phones these days. Chat sessions, recent calls and even GPS locations can be collected depending on your specific situation. Collecting and analyzing the mobile phone image can be expensive, but yield helpful information.
- GPS devices – Often overlooked, GPS devices can have recent trips, favorite locations and other information stored on them.
- USB Storage devices – Don’t overlook these small devices. Files can be recovered long after they are deleted. Information can be collected to show how and when the device was used.
- Digital Cameras – Digital pictures often hold revealing information such as time, date and even on some models GPS location!
- Other items – Depending on the sophistication of the subject being investigated, evidence can be hidden on Digital Video Recorders (DVRs such as Tivo), voice recorders, game consoles.
Be Smart about How You Collect Information
Small things can make the difference in evidence collection. In investigating infidelity, you play an instrumental role in selecting and collecting the information you need to support your case. To be successful, you must be smart about how this is done. Here are some tips to follow:
- Do not confront your spouse. Confrontation or similar provocative actions can be cues to your spouse that he or she needs to erase accounts, files or other digital information that points to his or her guilt. Resist the urge to confront. Work closely with your attorney and private investigator according to a plan that will get you results.
- Request access, but don’t push. Even brief access to your spouse’s computer can overcome the reasonable expectation of privacy your spouse has with his or her computer. This access can then demonstrate you have the legal right in the future to have a forensic analyst collect the information on the computer on your behalf without his or her knowledge. So if you suspect your spouse’s computer holds evidence, speak to your spouse and request access, but don’t push too hard, as this could raise suspicion.
- Have a computer forensic expert gather a complete image of the computer. This is more involved that just copying the hard drive and all files. A full image of the computer can potentially reveal what has been deleted, what search terms used and more. At your court date a judge will rule whether this evidence is admissible. If the judge rules in your favor, the complete computer image can then be entered into evidence. The computer hard drive image can then be analyzed. Consult with an attorney for the particulars regarding the law.
- Select the best opportunity to collect data. Computers and other electronic equipment have very large data capacity. This increases your chance of recovering useful information, but it also potentially takes a much longer time to gather a full image of the computer. The best case would allow enough time to remove the main disk from the computer and transport it to the forensics lab for duplication. Once copied, it can then be returned. The second choice would be to collect the information on site, but this can take many hours to complete and be more expensive.
- Provide your forensic analyst with key words that will help in the search for evidence. The more you know about the information you need, the easier it will be to find on the source. For instance, a name, email address or hotel name could be the difference between a long exhaustive search and finding evidence quickly. If you are working with a private investigator, he or she may be able to help you to develop key words to help narrow your search.
Consult an attorney if you have specific questions.
Note: Always use great care when dealing with electronic evidence. If it is gathered incorrectly, you may be breaking laws and/or it may not be usable in court.