Incriminating social media posts or digital communications are often portrayed as the Holy Grail for an aggrieved spouse going through a divorce. In some ways, it is not inaccurate. Increasingly, a spouse’s digital footprint can provide influential evidence during a separation.
This is not, however, an excuse for a spouse to snoop through a partner’s private accounts. Doing so is not just often illegal, but can actually hurt – rather than help – the case.
Resist the temptation to snoop
Technology has evolved quickly, and many laws remain behind the times. However, privacy laws at the federal and state levels provide fairly robust protection from digital snooping. This makes spying on a spouse not just a legal gray area, but oftentimes outright illegal.
Despite this, there is an abundance of hardware and software that allows for easy prying. This can include:
- Spyware programs to track a user’s computer activities
- A hidden recorder or voice recording program
- Small, easily disguised GPS devices
- Inconspicuous spy cameras
- Logging into private accounts to comb through messages
- Keyloggers that record every keystroke
Finding evidence that confirms a suspicion of wrongdoing may feel gratifying. Its benefits stop there.
Illegally obtained evidence is not admissible in court, so does your case no good. In addition, snooping could be seen as a negative behavior that ultimately influences other divorce considerations, such as the final custody order. And of course, you could face criminal charges or a civil suit.
Lawful electronic discovery
Part of the job of a divorce attorney is to gather relevant evidence in accordance with the law. This applies to electronic records, not just physical documents. There are means to securing and obtaining things like bank records, text messages, browsing history, phone usage and more – but this must be done with strict adherence to all applicable laws.
There is a lot at stake in a divorce. It is an emotionally challenging time, particularly if there was wrongdoing involved. While the urge to gather up digital evidence by any means possible is tempting, it is best to resist. Speak to your lawyer about any suspicions or ideas, and they can help determine the appropriate – and most beneficial – path forward.