There has been an increase of incidents of spying on your spouse in family law cases with the increase of technology in today’s world. With today’s readily available technology, examples of tracking a spouse using cell phone GPS or listening in on visitation between parents and children through devices strapped to young children who are unaware of what is occurring are not unusual. With technology readily accessible, it’s definitely different to get divorced now than it was 10 years ago.
Spying On Your Spouse Can Have Serious Consequences
Judges are taking these allegations of illegally tracking or spying on your spouse very seriously. Heavy sanctions are being imposed if there is evidence of one party illegally spying on the other. Attorneys are also taking action and demanding sanctions be issued against these stalkers.
Check Your Devices at the Door
Some family law attorneys require all sensitive information concerning a case to be discussed in person in their secure office environment. Attorneys take these types of issues very seriously and even attend legal education seminars on the subject to further ways to protect their clients. I know an attorney who always asks their clients to leave all laptops, computers, and other forms of technology at their reception desk. The attorney prohibits those devices to be in the same room as their meetings with clients. While this may seem extreme, in today’s world this appears to be the only secure way to have a confidential conversation with a client.
Be Aware of Spyware and Tracking Devices
Couples going through a divorce or family law litigation need to be aware that a tracking device can easily be attached to their vehicle in mere seconds. Today’s technology is extremely advanced; it’s sneaky and discreet. Here are just some of the things equating to spying on a spouse in family law cases:
- Using free Smartphone applications (“Apps”), you can trace you or your spouse’s movements through GPS tracking.
- There are even ways to have copies of your spouse’s emails and text messages sent to yourself automatically.
- Some software programs allow for a phone call to be automatically accepted; parents are using this software to spy on the other parent’s time with their children.
- Passwords can easily be saved or recovered on a computer that the password was used on even if the password was not saved.
All of these examples are viewed as an invasion of privacy. While this is becoming more common, Judges don’t react kindly to this behavior.
Change all of your Passwords
My first piece of advice for a new client is to change all your passwords! Make sure they are not something easily guessed by your soon to be former spouse. Also, be aware of security questions on your various accounts; spouses generally know the standard, generalized questions that you use when you have to reset your passwords.
Be cautious with this type of information; it could make or break your case.
Check Computer for Spyware If Necessary
If you know about it, you can bring it up to the Judge or take the necessary action to prevent furthering spying. If you believe there is a chance your computer has spyware on it, take it into the repair shop immediately to be investigated. That money spent may be well worth it down the road in divorce litigation.
What’s the Point of Proving Stalking?
When consulting with a client regarding these spying or tracking issues, it’s always important to perform a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether pursuing a forensic investigation will be valuable or not to your case.
Is there a likelihood that pursuing an investigation will lead to recovering beneficial information?
Will this information directly impact the client’s case in a positive way?
These factors need to be taken into consideration when determining whether or not to pursue a stalking charge in a family law matter.
For example, Illinois is a no-fault state. This means the reason the parties are getting a divorce does not make a difference in the outcome. Whether there was cheating in the relationship or just a difference in personalities that could not be overcome, Illinois law does not care when distributing marital property or deciding issues concerning children such as parenting time or child support. An Illinois judge will not make rulings harsher against a cheating spouse versus a non-cheating spouse.
This demonstrates how going through great efforts to prove your spouse is cheating may not be cost-effective to your case. Clients tend to want to prove their X is in the wrong or cheating on them. While this may be satisfying mentally or important for one to share with their friends and family; in a court of law, it will not generally affect the outcome of your case.
Be Aware of Signs of Spying or Tracking Behavior
Don’t stoop to the level of cheating; it can only come back to haunt you in court and speak negatively about your character. If you are going through a divorce or child custody situation, be sure to be on the lookout for any signs that your ex is trying to spy on or illegally track you. Be smart about your decisions with sensitive information or information concerning the strategy of your litigation. Make sure you are always thinking one step ahead of the game to put yourself in the best positive possible.
Be sure to consult with an attorney before making big decisions concerning sensitive topics in your case. Contact Anderson & Boback to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys and avoiding the dangers of spying on your spouse.