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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Monday, January 22, 2018

Divorce in the Digital Age

Is it legal for my spouse to spy on me using my cell phone?

Ever advancing technologies has opened new and potentially dangerous ways for divorcing spouses to gather damaging information about each other.  In today’s digital world, divorcing spouses now have to worry about not just physical stalking, but GPS tracking, cell phone spying, and much more.  While GPS trackers and spyware are commonplace, their use in a divorce raises some critical issues of legality.  Our Austin, Texas divorce lawyers discuss factors to consider when divorcing in this modern era and the legality of cyber spying.  

Going to Extremes in a Divorce

In contested Texas divorces, spouses have been known to go to extremes to uncover information about their soon to be ex-spouse that could boost their case.  Spouses have been known to install small GPS trackers on their spouse’s vehicle, allowing them to ascertain their spouse’s whereabouts at all times.  These devices are easy to place on a vehicle and their small size make them nearly impossible for the unsuspecting person to detect.

Perhaps even more invasive, divorcing spouse are also turning their snooping efforts to their spouse’s cell phones.  Spyware can be readily installed on a partner’s cell phone.  Once installed, in a matter of just minutes, the spyware app will allow access to all actions that take place on your cell phone.  A divorcing spouse could read a spouse’s text messages and obtain access to bank account information.  It is easy to see how such information could be damaging in a messy divorce case.

Is Digital Spying Legal?

While spyware is easy to install, it raises considerable issues as to legality and ethics.  Most divorce lawyers are of the opinion that spyware or GPS trackers installed without consent are not legal, and any evidence obtained using these means will not be admissible.  Intercepting a person’s electronic communications without consent could even constitute a crime.  In fact, an Austin man who placed a spyware app on his wife’s phone in 2007 received a four-year prison sentence for this actions.  

Aside from digital spying matters, divorcing spouses are further advised to use extreme caution as to what they post on social media websites.  This information is frequently deemed admissible in court.  Anyone in Texas who is contemplating divorce should consult with a divorce attorney for help dealing with the wide array of issues that surround a modern divorce.


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