Snooping on your spouse – when investigating becomes illegal

Snooping on your spouse – when investigating becomes illegal

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Going through is divorce is rarely easy, but it can become even more complicated when one party is doing some sleuthing into the other’s private information. New sources say being unaware of privacy laws in Colorado could lead to charges against someone who is spying on their spouse. With all of this age’s technology, it’s become even easier to see where someone is or what they’ve been up to and the act of spying on someone using modern technology has landed some people in court.

Between GPS tracking on phones and the availability of and lowering prices of small cameras and recorders, keeping tabs on someone has become as easy as the one-click button of shopping online. Some of the possible charges a snooper could face include stalking and invasion of privacy, but the real question is, where is the line drawn when spy and subject are together? One man had put a tracker on his wife’s car and, after originally being convicted of stalking charges and charges of tracking her car, an appeal granted him the latter charge dismissed. The judge reportedly ruled so due to the joint ownership of the vehicle, and therefore found the tracking to be legal.

There have been other cases reported, involving password-protected computers being looked through, hidden video cameras and recorders all appearing to be used to incriminate a spouse; however some of this information may not be admissible in court, depending on what state someone is in. One man attempted to pass legislation in 2009, vying for the privacy rights regarding location and activity without consent, save for a select few. One of the grey areas in this legislation was the instance of a married couple’s individual privacy rights. The bill didn’t end up getting passed.

Understanding your rights as an individual and also as a spouse could help you in moving forward with a divorce. It appears that the courts are still determining an absolute ruling on this issue as some five of the thirteen U.S. circuit courts have ruled that this kind of investigating is in violation of the Federal Wiretap Act, whereas two have said the surveillance does not violate it. Colorado residents would do well to discuss their options and curiosities with an experienced attorney, as they may be able to direct a party of a divorce toward some legal ways to go about a divorce.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “A Spy-Gear Arms Race Transforms Modern Divorce,” Steve Eder and Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Oct. 5, 2012

· Our law firm handles cases of divorce and asset divisions. To learn more, visit our Donelson Ciancio & Grant Family Law page.