Could your house be “bugged” during a divorce case?

When a divorce case begins in Texas it is normal to have concerns about your privacy and safety. Your life had previously been something that only you were interested in. Now your habits are going to be scrutinized because of your having filed for divorce. What’s worse is that the person who has the most contact and access to you- your spouse- is also the most likely person to want to compromise your privacy and try to spy on you. This could lead to him or her doing things that you ordinarily would not associate with your spouse-such as inserting cameras or listening devices into your home to spy on you.

Adding to these concerns is just how sophisticated listening or recording devices have become over the past few years. Whereas in generations past a person would have to go to great lengths to spy on their spouse, now it can be done without going through much trouble at all. Instead of going to an electronics store or a “spy shop” to purchase the materials or paraphernalia needed to spy, your spouse now only has to purchase a home assistant or any other device that works with wireless internet and voice commands. From there, your spouse can potentially surveil your home without you even knowing it.

The reality is that your home could be bugged, and you may not even know it. It is not uncommon to see a family going through a divorce have a suspicion that there are spying devices in the home. Sometimes things just don’t add up. Your husband may reference a conversation that you had with another person while you were home alone. Your wife could mention how you changed where the safe was that held your extra cash. Things that even your spouse wouldn’t know unless you had told him or her are now being referenced casually in conversation. How would that be possible unless he or she was spying on you?

There are many reasons why your spouse may want to get information from you without your knowing it but the most common is to gain an advantage in the divorce. If your spouse is suspicious about your behavior, then you may want to be on the alert for spying going in in your home. That information that he or she gains can be used against you when it comes to conservatorship and custody issues as well as community property division. Needless to say, this information can be important to be aware of.

Consider whether your spouse suspects you have committed adultery during your marriage. If you are cheating on your spouse that is one thing, but if you are using community funds to purchase your significant other, gifts, trips, or anything else then the adultery becomes a central issue in your case. That is not to say that adultery or cheating is ever justified or “less bad.” However, there are different types of cheating which are significant in different ways in each divorce. Cheating in a situation where spousal maintenance can be an issue is especially impactful.

What could be happening at your house?

Suppose that you are a wife and mother who just believes that something was “off” at home. A lot of things were coming up at home that seemed to be less coincidental and more the result of something caused by a person who was spying on her or at the very least eavesdropping on her conversations, text messages, and emails. This feeling is enough to make any person uneasy or suspicious. That you thought your spouse was thinking about divorce made those emotions feel more real to you.

Your children were feeling the pressure of a divorce, too, even though the case hadn’t been filed. They’ve been hesitant to spend too much time at home. They find themselves spending more time with their friends and at places outside the home than at home with you and your spouse. Who can blame them? The atmosphere at home has been far from ideal for a family. Now that a divorce is on your doorstep it is time to think critically about the case that is before you and make decisions that are intended to benefit your children and yourself. How can you protect those closest to you when your spouse may be violating your trust and privacy in such a profound way?

You should be aware of your surroundings, first. If you have any self-awareness, then you know whether you are an observant person or not. For example, my wife is someone who notices everything. If you turned a box of cereal around in the cupboard from the way, it usually faced she would notice that change. If the kids have a school assignment or project, then she is the first one to notice a mistake or other imperfection and will help the kids correctly. However, not everyone is like this. Some people are not observant and pay little attention to themselves. The reason could be that you have concerns that go beyond yourself and are instead focused on others in a good way.

With that said, you must start looking around you (literally) to see if anything seems amiss. Are you noticing papers being moved around? What about décor in the home? You can look for signs of tampering with the house if you are observant and looking out for potential spying mechanisms. Even household items can be used to spy on you by your spouse. Pens, pencils, and the like can all be fitted with cameras or recording devices. Take a moment and look at your favorite online retailer to see how easy it is for your spouse to obtain a spying device just by clicking their mouse or phone’s screen a few times. As I mentioned before, spying is not hard to do and takes little effort currently.

Your computer is the gateway into your personal life

Nowadays you have to especially watch out for changes made to your computer, laptop, or your cellphone if you want to be sure that no funny business like spying is going on in your home. Most older people (older than 35, maybe?) will think of cameras in a stuffed animal or listening devices like I just talked to all of you about a moment ago when it comes to spying. However, spying has taken on a much more significant role when it comes to our digital lives. It is now to the point where I would argue that people should be most wary of their online or digital security than the security of any other type. While a camera can record your physical movements and actions for a given moment, your computer can secure your personal information for an indefinite amount of time. Therefore, you have much more to secure on your computer than you do in your living room. Here are some additional thoughts on digital and online security and keeping yourself safe from spying in these areas before and during a divorce.

Keep an eye on the family computer. Whether it is a laptop or a desktop you should look at the physical computer itself to see if there has been anything added to it or stuck on it. This is not to say that all or even most spying that occurs when it comes to a computer is done with a physical object being attached to your computer. However, this is not out of the realm of possibilities and should be a basic thing to look out for if I was in your position. Look for any USB devices that have been inserted into the computer.

Look at how the computer functions, next. You know how long it takes your computer to complete tasks, open various programs, and download materials. If the computer seems to be running slower than usual, you should make a note of that. Next, look at recently downloaded materials, programs, or software. If it looks like something was just installed on your computer, you should write down the name of the downloaded item and then look it up using a device that your spouse does not have access to. This may be all the evidence that you need to determine whether or not you are being spied on.

Your telephone is another place to look out for potential spying activities. Many people get suspicious if their spouse attempts to look through their mobile phones. That is almost a forbidden thing to do in some marriages. I can see this happening if you have a negative history of people who have looked through your phone and been suspicious of you. For that reason, you may already have your antennae raised when it comes to your phone and its security. If so, then that may not be a bad thing at least for this divorce. However, you should start to think critically about your phone and how it is being used and possibly abused by your spouse.

Keep in mind that if you notice the same person in multiple places that you go in a relatively short period that should be a sign that you are being followed or tracked by your spouse. If your husband knows that you always stop at the store after work on Thursday to do the weekly grocery shopping, then that is a place where a private investigator can easily track where you are and what you’re doing. If your spouse knows that you always go to lunch at the same place each week with people from work, the same rule applies. What your spouse maybe is attempting to do is determine whether you are changing your habits for one reason or another.

What should you do if you think you are being spied on?

The purpose of this blog post is not to scare or intimidate you. There are a lot of reasons to feel intimidated in this world. You may have a tough assignment at work that you feel unprepared for. Your child may be facing an illness or medical condition that you know little about and feel like you are at a deficit in knowledge of. These are intimidating situations, to say the least. To feel like you have little in the way of resources to help you deal with an overwhelming situation is the definition of intimidation. Your feelings in response to that circumstance are the byproducts of intimidation. It is normal to feel that way. Something would be wrong if you didn’t feel intimidated or overwhelmed when dealing with a serious situation.

However, that is not what you should hold onto while you are going through a divorce- even one where you are concerned about potential spying in the home. Rather, you should begin to take concrete steps to protect yourself, your data, and your property from the spying that you are concerned about. The information that we have shared in this blog post is easy to start implementing in your daily life and cost you nothing but effort. You will notice that I have not recommended you buy anything to protect yourself or your property.

Instead, all you need to do is show some effort and prepare- at least at first. It may take money to fight for your children and your interests in a divorce. However, eventually, you may need to hire an attorney to assist you and walk alongside you. We hope that you consider the Law Office of Bryan Fagan when and if you get into that position. If you would like to reach out to us to discuss your case and to find out more about the services that we can provide you with during this stage in your life please contact us today for a free-of-charge consultation. Otherwise, here are some final thoughts on spying during a Texas divorce.

Be aware but not overwhelmed

It is reasonable to think that you could be spied on in the days or months leading up to a divorce. If you think about it, there is no better time for your spouse to try to spy on you than now. The stakes are never going to be higher. The potential benefit of their spying is huge. Sure, there are consequences for engaging in illegal activity- but that’s only if he or she is caught, and even then, you must hold your spouse responsible for having spied on you. Trust your spouse, sure, but verify that your trust is not being misused against you.

Another way to combat this issue is to reach out to a private investigator who has experience working with people going through divorces. You can learn about tips and things to look out for even if you do not want to hire the investigator to tail your spouse around town. You can learn what to look out for and other clues that may help you in learning whether your spouse is keeping track of your movements or spying on you. Again, you may not want to learn about this type of thing, but you must be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to spying. Playing defense throughout your case is not a good idea. At a certain point that means having an offensive strategy designed to position yourself well in the divorce.

Let’s start by protecting your devices. Change passwords and where you didn’t have them set up before doing it now. Your phone should have a password on it for access purposes. If you have a computer at home, not only should you update passwords to the websites that you use but you should begin to copy any data, files, or programs that you use so that if you lose access to that computer, it will not mean that you are cut off from this information. To an extent, the fact that most information is “on the cloud” these days makes this a little easier to do. However, for information that is stored on that computer specifically, you need to make sure that you have access to it in the future. We don’t know who will end up living where or what circumstances are going to take place in your care. Prepare like you won’t have the access to do these things in the future.

For your personal belongings, you can take photos of every room in your home, including closets, drawers, crawl spaces, and safes. Keep track of money in your bank accounts and cash on reserve at home. Many families have a drawer, safe, or another area where extra cash is kept. It pays to keep tabs on this money as it tends to be lost in a divorce- if you know what I mean.

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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