Passionate SMS text messages sent to mistresses and girlfriends (and, so as not to be too sexist, boyfriends as well) can be used as evidence for a divorce in France. And if you don’t think there’s anything new in that – there is. France’s quaint, or should I say quirky, divorce laws have never allowed them to be submitted as evidence in the past.
Text messages and e-mails have long been accepted as official proof in murder and other criminal trials in France, and the new decision extends such practice into family law.
France's Supreme Court ruled that electronic messages are now acceptable as legitimate proof of adultery and obviously this will make it easier for the French to get divorced. Previously, French husbands and wives often had to wait for years to escape a marriage if they could not prove that their spouse was misbehaving or mistreating them. The decision overturned a 2007 ruling by a lower court which had declared, believe it or not, that using messages generated by phone or computer, in a court of law for divorce cases was a breach of privacy.
Getting a divorce can be a lengthy and painful procedure in France. If the spouses fail to agree to separate and live apart by mutual consent, those filing for divorce must prove that the spouse was cheating or abusing or mistreating them. If the judge is not convinced, a divorce will be pronounced only after two years of living separately. Up until 2004, French law required couples to wait as long as six years.
I’ve had quite a few friends divorce out here and sometimes the divorce process can go on so long you forget who the other partner was. Of course, the lawyers lap this up as the longer the divorce takes the more money they rake in. Still, I suppose this is the same the world over?
But getting back to these naughty text messages, I’ve been placed in a few situations where J picked up my phone when a text has arrived to find a rather naughty suggestion or two on the screen. On the first occasion, I had a new pay-as-you-go sim card which of course has its own unique mobile number. The problem is that these PAYG sim-cards have their numbers recycled, so on the occasion in question, a ‘friend’ of the person who had the number before me sent the text thinking that it was going to their old flame. J was not impressed and I had a bit of explaining to do. Luckily, and by a huge coincidence, that very week Sven Goran Ericsson (the ex England football manager) sent a text to one of his many girlfriends only to find she’d changed her number (or sim card) and the rather suggestive text ended up on somebody else’s phone. Embarrassment all round but the story did save me from a bashing at home.
Similarly, after I left BT a couple of years ago, I managed to obtain (purloin ?) one of the many hundreds of ‘lost’ mobile phones which are left lying around the company. For weeks I used to receive texts asking me out and saying, ‘don’t be late – I’ll be waiting for you’. These were obviously meant for the previous owner but J didn’t see it that way.
Women will never understand technology!
And just as if to ram my point home there are now 'send a fake/anonymous' text websites - so now you can stitch up anybody you like!