Can Cyber-Spying on Your Spouse Affect Your Divorce?

Sherlock Holmes peering through magnifying glass
The days of Sherlock Holmes are over. Most spying these days is done digitally.

There was a time in the not too distant past when spying on your spouse meant hiring a private detective to follow them around with binoculars and a long-lens camera. (Or for those with less disposable income, simply trailing around after them yourself, hoping to “catch them in the act.”) But those days are mostly over. We live in a digital world now, where everything we do leaves a trail of cyber crumbs – if you know where to look for them. But does looking for those crumbs actually put you at risk of breaking the law? They might…

Unless you live “off the grid” you leave a distinct digital trail…

Your smartphone knows everything about you. Okay, maybe not everything, but it does know an awful lot, including where you are at any given time. And no, we don’t just mean “in general”, we mean very specifically.

Your smartphone knows where you are – Believe it or not, U.S. law requires that your phone track your location and broadcast that data to within a precision of 30 feet or closer. That’s right – if your phone is working, it’s broadcasting your geolocation data. And yes, it continues to do so even if you’ve disabled your phone’s ability to show you your own geolocation history, or share it with other apps. There’s no way around it.

Your smartphone knows what you’ve been saying – Every text, every email, every instant message, every tweet. Every form of electronic information exchange – they all leave a trail that can be followed. And if you’re trash talking your soon-to-be-ex, trying to engineer a situation that will make them look bad, or having an affair, then you better hope you’re not discussing that in any way with anyone via electronic messaging. Don’t think for a minute that your spouse’s attorneys can’t subpoena your phone records. The family law attorneys at The Kronzek Firm issue these subpoenas all the time.

Your smartphone knows what you’ve been looking at – There’s a really good chance that your internet browser history is going to come up in court. (Yes, we’re serious!) So you need to be very careful about what sites you’re visiting online. Internet porn, online dating sites and even online shopping web pages can look really bad when presented to the judge by your spouse’s attorney. After all, few judges are going to give primary custody to someone who appears to have dubious morals, is already looking for their next relationship before this one is officially over, and can’t make sound financial decisions.

So should you cyber-spy on your spouse, or not?

This is actually a two part question. One, could cyber spying on your spouse affect your future divorce? Yes it could, but maybe not in the ways you’d expect. Cyber spying (as long as you’re not breaking the law!) can provide some illuminating information about your spouse’s underhanded dealings. But it can also get you into trouble if you go about it the wrong way, and possibly even ruin a relationship that might otherwise have survived. So if you’re going to try your hand at a little digital detective work, be very careful. Think through your decisions, and don’t do anything illegal! Our best advice is either to do nothing before you get specific advice from an experienced attorney or to let a professional private investigator do your snooping for you. They can legally do things that others cannot do without committing a crime.

Your best bet is to get a really good family law attorney!

If you’re considering a divorce, and want to know what sneaky side jobs your spouse has been up to, we recommend you call up a reputable Oakland County family law attorney and ask for help. If a P.I. is needed, your attorney will know a good one. If there’s a legal way to present your spouse’s digital follies, they’ll be able to do get it done. And if your soon-to-ex has been really has been doing something shady and leaving a cyber trail, your attorney will be able to help you find the evidence you need without breaking the law! Our Oakland County office can be reached 24 / 7 at 248  479-6200. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you before or during the entire divorce process.