A divorce can be a difficult time, especially when the individuals are fighting over child custody, property, and alimony. With such high emotions involved, people can do things they wouldn't normally do. This includes stalking, spying, or hiring a private investigator to follow the other spouse around, looking for anything they could use against them in the divorce trial.
It is very upsetting to learn that your spouse is spying on you during a divorce. However, before taking matters into your own hands or engaging in the same type of behavior, talk to your Missouri divorce lawyer. Your attorney can let you know your options, put a stop to any invasive spying, and help you get the best result for your divorce.
Spying and Surveillance is Smaller and Cheaper
Spying and surveillance equipment and programs are smaller, cheaper, and harder to detect. This makes it easy for a suspicious spouse or a stalker to record and observe someone without their knowledge. If you suspect someone may be watching you or hacking into your computer or phone, you may need an expert to find out what's going on and put an end to it.
In a National Public Radio story, a woman was suspicious that her ex-husband was stalking her. Her ex seemed to notice when she left town and who she visited. She watched for someone following her as she drove but never saw anyone. Eventually, she took her car in for maintenance and asked the mechanic to look for a tracking device. The mechanic found a small GPS tracker near the front tire.
While there are limits to the police use of tracking devices on private citizens, private citizens may not be held to the same standard if they want to place a tracking device on another person's vehicle. In the above case, the car was still jointly held by both former spouses and the ex had the right to track the vehicle.
Apps to Access Phones
Some spouses who are going through a break-up may try and install spyware on the other's computer or phone. Spyware programs or apps can track a phone's movement through location signals, and others can record keystrokes. Hacking into another's account can show them phone searches, photos, email, and text messages.
Generally, tapping into a person's computer or phone without their consent is illegal. In Missouri (and under federal law), wiretapping is a criminal offense. Under Missouri Revised Statute § 542.402.2, it is a class E felony to knowingly use any electronic device to intercept any oral communication or wire communication.
Use of Information in the Divorce
Evidence gathered during an investigation or surveillance can be used by one spouse against the other in a divorce. This can affect an award of alimony, child custody, and how property is divided. For example, one spouse follows the other to a bar and records a video of the spouse drinking four drinks during the course of an hour, then driving home. The spying spouse may try and use this information to show that the other spouse was drinking and driving and could be a risk to the children.
If You Suspect Spying or Surveillance During a Divorce
If you suspect spying or surveillance during a divorce, talk to your divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to help you secure evidence of any illegal activity and protect your privacy. You may also want to change any passwords on your devices. It is also a good idea to limit your social media activity, especially with photos or statements that could be taken out of context or used against you in court.
If you have any questions about filing for divorce and protecting your rights and privacy, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm in Raymore, Missouri.