Spouses Turn to Electronic Snooping to Spy, But is it Legal?
Like all complex questions, the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Attorneys will use social media in all kinds of court proceedings and divorce is perhaps one of the most popular. Social media posts of your spouse out with friends provides an inquiring attorney with a lot of information. This information can (and will) be used against you in court. But that is not usually what divorcing couples are looking for.
No, a divorcing spouse is generally looking for signs of infidelity and this is where they get into trouble.
Snooping Technology and Hacking
Today, there are a number of technologies that allow you to spy on your children. However, when these same technologies are used on spouses without their knowledge or consent, that would be perceived as a criminal act along the lines of unlawful wiretapping or hacking.
The general rule of thumb to apply is this: If the information is available publicly, then it can be used in court. However, if the target had an expectation of privacy, as when it comes to password-protected accounts and email, then you’re into criminal territory.
The Legal Way to Gain Access to Protected Information
Luckily, you can get access to this information using the apparatus of the law. You can file a motion during your divorce proceedings to turn over all information that you suspect may show some evidence of adultery or any other marital concern. What you cannot do is hacking into their social media accounts or access password-protected accounts. Not only would you be guilty of committing a crime, but that illegally-collected information would be inadmissible in court.
The Method of Acquisition
Whether or not you’ve committed a crime depends on how the information was intercepted. In one case, the wife finds evidence that her husband has been communicating with his girlfriend. Husband argues those emails are inadmissible because they are from a password-protected email account. Husband neglected to mention that he had a service that copies all emails from this account into a folder on a shared computer. This is where the wife finds the information. The court rules in favor of the wife because her method of acquisition did not violate any law.
Florida law makes it illegal to access private information without permission. However, information that is expected to be private but is carelessly left where anyone could find it is admissible.
Similarly, you may not use a computer that is not yours without permission especially when this is a computer used for work. Computers owned by a family and placed in living rooms or other accessible places may not be covered, however. The individual who was snooped on must show that their privacy was violated to get the evidence tossed out.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney
The West Palm Beach divorce attorneys at Bruce S. Rosenwater & Associates have helped several couples untie the knot. Call our offices today to learn more about how we can help.