Spying on your spouse - What to know in a Texas Divorce

We all live in an age where information is readily at each of our fingertips. A few keystrokes can lead to our discovering the names and birthdates of long lost relatives if we visit a genealogy website.

If you walk into your backyard and see a strange looking snake you can take a photo, upload it to your computer and then research whether or not it was poisonous or not. Information is good and having the ability to access that information thank to technological innovation helps people young and old alike.

It is my opinion that having ready access to this sort of information leads us as humans to wanting ready access to other sorts of information as well. I’d argue this is true even if there are road blocks to our obtaining it.

This can be especially accurate in the context of a divorce case. If you had a feeling that your spouse was not being honest with you in some way would you seek out the truth that you were convinced your spouse wasn’t providing? Would you spy on your spouse to make sure you got the information you wanted?

Spying in a Divorce case

The tell-tale signs of cheating in a marriage are many:

  1. spending time on the computer late at night
  2. unexplained phone calls at random times, and
  3. money spent at places that are out of the ordinary for that person

If you find yourself in a situation where you encounter these types of signs it is only natural to want to more and get to the bottom of the situation.

For many people, it can also mean bypassing the stage where you want to find out all you can and immediately jumping to the stage where you prepare for a divorce.

Ironically it is the people who immediately jump into “divorce mode” that then want to retrace their steps and attempt to obtain evidence to use against their spouse in the divorce case.

This can be because they believe that this evidence can be used to obtain a bigger share of the divorce “pie”. Court in Texas can, under certain circumstances, award disproportionate shares of the community estate to a party whose spouse was unfaithful to them.

The same technology I touched on in the opening to this blog post can be used to help a person get information about their spouse that they otherwise could never get. Whether or not you call this spying, a court may. There are both federal and state laws that pertain to spying that you should be aware of if you are involved in a divorce case.

Examples of “spying” that may be illegal

The Federal Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act protects people from others gathering information by indirect means such as hacking email. I’m sure the thought has crossed the mind of a spouse that has been cheated on that if only he or she could take a look at the email account of their cheating spouse. Then the whole world could see what a bad husband or wife they have.

The Federal wiretapping law above makes it a federal crime to use a machine to get access to the communication of others without the approval of a court.

The exception is if the other party has given consent to have their communication be accessed. It is also illegal to use a computer program to log the communications (often these communications are emails) or to keep track of the persons to whom the outgoing communications are addressed to.

An example of such behavior in the context a divorce is the spouse who suspects their husband or wife of cheating and then learns the email password of their spouse and hacks into the email account in order to substantiate their suspicions.

It doesn’t matter if the email you are attempting to access belongs to a presidential candidate or your spouse. If you don’t have permission to access the emails and you decide to do so anyway, you can be held responsible criminally.

At the very least, a judge in your divorce case can decide to not admit certain pieces of evidence if he or she believe that they were obtained using illegal means.

Spying is not all black and white

Spying on your spouse is not a black and white subject where the activity is either legal or illegal. It is crucial to ask yourself whether or not your spouse has a reasonable expectation of privacy to certain pieces of information.

In the aforementioned email scenario, if your spouse keeps their email logged in 24/7 and it is accessible from the family laptop it can be argued that there is not expectation that communication using that email address will be kept private.

However, if you were never given the password to that account and access to this account is kept secret from you it is more difficult to argue that there should be no expectation of privacy attached to that source of information.

Likewise, if your company puts a tracking device on a company car that you drive for work purposes and makes you aware of that, you wouldn’t be able to argue that this practice violates your reasonable expectation of privacy. On the other hand, if you place a tracking device on your spouse’s vehicle then it is more likely that your action has crossed the line into illegal activity.

Spying is complex- finding a great attorney is not

Whether you are going through a Texas divorce or merely contemplating one, you will want to have the perspective and knowledge that only years of experience can render. The Houston divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan combine the experience of arguing cases in front of judges across southeast Texas and the attention to detail that your case demands.

Our office can schedule a free of charge consultation for you six days a week. If you are interested in speaking with a family law attorney about your particular situation please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. The Dirty Trick of Spousal Spying in a Texas Divorce
  2. Dos and Don'ts Regarding Electronic Communications in a Texas Divorce
  3. Legalities of spying on a child's cell phone in Texas
  4. Can I Sue My Ex for Hacking My Computer in My Texas Divorce?
  5. Cell Phones, Mail, Computers, Spying on your Spouse, and Privacy Rights in a Spring, Texas Divorce
  6. Do I Need to Change My Passwords for a Divorce in Texas?
  7. How Social Media Can Hurt You in Divorce
  8. Why do divorces cost so much in Texas?
  9. How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?
  10. How Much Will My Texas Divorce Cost?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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