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How digital spying may affect divorce cases

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2018 | Family Law |

Normally, stalking someone, including an ex-spouse, would be considered a crime. However, technology used for the purpose of digital spying has created a gray area when it comes to such activities. While keeping tabs on a former spouse may be intrusive, it’s not always considered a crime in California. In some situations, the legality of the techniques used to track movements will depend on where digital spy devices are placed.

When a family law case involves divorce, there are many potential issues involved. One of these is who owns what. If digital devices like GPS trackers are placed on a vehicle owned jointly, an argument can be made that since the property is owned by both parties, the ex-spouse has a right to track its location. In other situations, existing laws concerning electronic wiretapping may be applied to prevent unauthorized tracking of conversations, including text messages, although finding proof that confirms a spouse’s suspicions is sometimes difficult.

The challenge when technology is involved is that former partners often find creative ways to use spyware, sometimes installing it on computers or phones. There are some applications that will allow an individual to track another party’s actions right down to the keystrokes they are making. Parents are permitted to use this technology on their children’s phones. However, when former spouses do it without consent, it’s generally considered illegal.

If a divorce involves parent relocation, battles over child custody or general animosity between parties, it’s possible that one or both spouses may resort to using spyware in an attempt to gather evidence. A divorce lawyer may discourage such activities, but they can’t prevent clients from using technology in this way. What a lawyer might do is advise that such evidence not be used due to legal issues concerning how it was obtained.