What is spousal spying?

All is fair in love and war. We’ve all heard this saying before, but it is as true today as it was back when it first started circling the globe. In other words, this saying means to inform the listener that in important matters like love and war, there is nothing that can be seen as out of bounds or illegal, even if it involves spying on your spouse. Rather, the ends justify the means if you can achieve your goal of winning a heart or a heated battle.

Navigating Divorce Rules and Consequences

As romantic as this saying may seem, it can run you into a heap of trouble in a divorce. There most certainly are rules that apply to your divorce case. If you break those rules or try to operate outside of them there will be consequences to face. Your spouse will surely try to hold you accountable to those rules and you will try to do the same. This is an inescapable truth when it comes to divorce in Texas

One of the ways that your spouse may attempt to circumvent the rules of divorce is to try and spy on you leading up to the divorce. This can be done in many ways but one of the most pervasive methods to go about spying on your spouse these days is to utilize technology to do so. Since we live so much of our lives in the digital world, it would only make sense to achieve this goal of spying by using technology. Keep in mind that if you are planning on spying on your spouse then that is a sword that cuts both ways. Your spouse can just as easily hatch a plan to spy on you.

How can technology be used in spying?

Some programs intended for use within your cellphone can allow your spouse to even get past the anti-spyware protection that you install on your phone. Once the anti-spyware protection has been bypassed then there is no stopping your spouse from being able to access all communications held on your phone- your emails, text messages, and history of phone calls. This information can be saved, stored, and then sent to where your spouse would like to send it. All while you think you have protection on your phone which would never allow for any of this to happen to you.

All of this sounds so nefarious, doesn’t it? Spying on your spouse- the person you share a life, children, and a home with- sounds like something that nobody who has even a shred of decency could ever get involved with. However, people in your position can use a struggling marriage as the basis for engaging in this type of behavior. They will rationalize it to themselves by saying that under normal circumstances they would never do something like this. However, these aren’t normal circumstances. As a result, your spouse may decide to do something out of character. 

Risks and Consequences of Spying on Your Spouse

Even if your spouse engages in spying against you, it can still lead to information that could show bad behavior on your part. Infidelity currently almost certainly winds up on your phone at some point. This can impact the division of your community estate and may even affect how custody issues are decided regarding your children. What if your spouse was able to determine that you were already cohabitating with a significant other? This could ruin your chances of being awarded spousal maintenance once the divorce comes to an end. 

With all of this said, spying on your spouse is not only against the rules of divorce but it may also be illegal. In the spirit of “anything goes” in a divorce you may feel justified in trying to do this. However, the consequences of spying are numerous and the ability to utilize the evidence that you turn up during the spying is not a sure thing. You and your attorney will have to disclose how you came about the evidence. A judge would likely view the evidence as “fruit of the poisoned tree” and bar the information, documents, photos, or other evidence from the record. 

You should speak with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to discuss what steps you can take to monitor the behavior of your spouse without running afoul of the laws of Texas and the temporary orders of your divorce. Using technology to capture and transmit the communications of other people, including your spouse, could violate federal laws in addition to Texas laws against stalking. This is why having an experienced attorney in your corner is so important. 

To delete, or not to delete- that is the question

Desperate to hide this material from your spouse, your first instinct may simply be to delete everything on your phone before your spouse can ever gain access to it. Some people work in electronics and in the digital space who can find deleted data. Messing around with potential evidence in a divorce can cause you to inadvertently break the rules of the court when all you were trying to do was to protect yourself against spying. Make sure to ask your attorney before deleting anything off your phone.

A cautionary tale in the real world

There is good reason to not spy on your spouse beyond moral considerations. Suppose that you had the bright idea to start spying on your wife just a few weeks before you filed for divorce. Your thought behind doing this was that it would help you get your case off on the right foot and it almost certainly wouldn’t be noticed by your spouse. Your goal was to get between conversations, emails, and text messages between your spouse and anyone else in her life who she may talk to about a divorce. 

However, once you started to work towards spying on your spouse, she started to get suspicious and worked with her attorney to turn over her phone to an expert in spying and digital malfeasance. This person immediately found programs downloaded into her phone that would send you the data you were seeking. Caught red-handed, you were found to be in contempt of court for violating provisions in your temporary orders against spying on one another. Not only did you spy on your spouse, but you also attempted to delete all your data off your home computer and your phone. This is a double whammy and was another way that you attempted to circumvent the rules of divorce. 

Navigating Temptations: Why Spying on Your Spouse Is a Risky Move

The bottom line is that it is not abnormal to feel tempted to spy on your spouse or to at least keep tabs on what he or she is doing. Divorce can bring out our suspicions and other traits that we otherwise may ignore or may not exist at all. However, the key to this discussion is to not give in to spying. Usually, no good can come of it. On the flip side, you can suffer harm in your case and the long-term relationship with your spouse. Talk with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan before you make a move to spy on your spouse. You never know what may be off-limits in your divorce

How to prepare for a divorce- ethically

All this discussion brings us to a logical question: how do you prepare for a divorce in a way that does not involve spousal spying? So far in today’s blog post, we have shared the “don’ts” of a divorce with you. Well, what about the “do’s”? How can you go from unprepared for your divorce to a person who is ready to go? That is what we are going to discuss with you for the remainder of today’s blog post. There are specific ways for you to get ready for a divorce which do not involve spousal spying or bending the rules. 

First, you should think long and hard about whether you need to file for divorce. In some situations, you may just be frustrated with your spouse about one topic but do not need to follow through with a divorce. Have you tried discussing with your spouse the matter at hand? What about counseling, therapy or another means to try and increase the level of communication between the two of you? All these are methods of reconciling the situation rather than going to the extremes of a divorce. 

Preparing for Divorce: Initial Steps to Take

Once you have given the matter a great deal of thought, attempted to work things out with your spouse, and are now confident that a divorce is the only possible direction to take your case then that is what you can do. Filing for divorce is a process just like anything else in the law. To do this, you will need to be prepared to begin to think about what you are going to ask for in the divorce. To be granted relief by the court, to get the things you want, you need to ask for them specifically. Start to consider what you may need in this divorce: spousal support, child support, property division, and a protective order. Start making a list.

Next, before you make any mistakes in the filing of documents that could delay your case and cause you to lose money, you should consider meeting with an experienced family law attorney. Attorneys who work in the field of family law know how to file a divorce case without losing a lot of time. There are specifics in these documents which need to be included. If you do not include this language or meet a filing deadline you may end up having to go back and correct that mistake later on. This can cost you time and money. Rather than run into this issue down the road it pays to meet with an attorney now. 

Navigating Attorney Meetings: Active Listening and Transparency

When you meet with an attorney be sure to do some talking but also make sure that you are actively listening to what the attorney has to say. This is crucial not only for the information that he or she will impart but also for you to be able to start to get a feel for how comfortable you feel about this person. Remember, if you choose to hire this attorney you will be placing a lot of trust in him to her to represent you in the case. Not only that, but this person is also someone to whom you will be telling private information about sensitive subject matter. The best you can do is listen to the lawyer and begin to form an opinion about their ability to act in your best interests. 

Once you have decided to hire an attorney it is time to come clean about any information that you have not previously disclosed to him or her. Our attorneys call this a “skeletons in the closet” conversation. You will need to be able to talk to your attorney about any information that you ordinarily would not share with another person. This is typically information that is relevant to your case that will not cause you to look good. If you do not share the information with your lawyer that does not mean it will never see the light of day. Rather, it is more likely that your opposing attorney will surprise you with it in a hearing or trial. That can severely hurt your case. 

Navigating Discovery Requests in Divorce Cases

It is common at the beginning of a divorce case to be asked by your spouse to respond to discovery requests. These discovery requests are in the form of questions to be answered and things to turn over to the other side for viewing. You and your spouse are trying to get a feel for the case that you plan on presenting at trial. This will help with trial preparation but can also help you to determine whether a settlement is likely in the case.

When it comes to discovery, we recommend to our clients that you do as much of the work yourself answering questions. The reason that we recommend this is because it can help you save money. When an attorney and their staff have to work with you on completing the discovery requests that costs you money in the way of attorney’s fees. Furthermore, much of the information asked for will be material that only you know about. You can respond to the questions and your attorney will review your submissions to determine whether information is privileged or if another objection applies. 

Preparing for Divorce: Conducting a Property Inventory

One of the major steps that you should be sure not to miss at the beginning of a divorce is to conduct a thorough inventory of all your property. An inventory means that you should go through your home take photos and document all the property in the home. This can be time-consuming, but it is incredibly necessary. Suppose that you are ordered to leave the home and cannot check up on your property in the future. What would you do in that position? This may be your last and best opportunity to gain access to the property that may be subject to division in the divorce. 

Completing all these steps is a guarantee of very little in the divorce other than that you will be as prepared as possible. Since every divorce is different you cannot base your experiences on those of a friend or neighbor. However, the process of filing for divorce is the same for all people, and the steps you can take to prepare for a divorce work for just about everyone who goes through this process. If you have specific questions about how to best prepare for your divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today.

Final thoughts on spousal spying

When it comes to spousal spying it is easy to just say “Don’t do it.” That is the best advice that can be given to anyone going through a divorce. However, it is easy to say this but can be difficult to achieve once you begin to realize the stakes involved in the case. If you suspect your spouse of spying on you then you should talk to your attorney and a hearing can be held if your spouse persists in the bad behavior. 

Spousal spying at the beginning of a divorce sets the tone for the rest of the case. When you start off the case by breaking the rules there can be no trust between the two of you. That trust is likely on shaky ground to begin with given that you are going through a divorce. Rather than succumb to the temptation of spousal spying, stick with the advice of your attorney, be honest with your spouse, and work towards bettering the lives of your kids. Do this, and you will be off to a great start in the divorce case. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case involving spying on your spouse.

  1. Spy Gear: What is your Partner Using to Monitor You?
  2. What to do When Your Spouse is Spying on You
  3. Spousal Cyber Spying: Are You At Risk?

Categories: Divorce, Family Law

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