Modern divorce going electronic with spy gear

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

Some participants in divorce actions may be increasing the already-high trauma level by employing high tech spying devices. Divorce and high tech are not necessarily a perfect match in Chicago or anywhere else.

Using electronic spy gear to collect “evidence” of an affair or similar transgression is not legal in many jurisdictions. Take the case of a Minnesota man, who installed spy apps on his spouse’s cell phone and computer, while also attaching a GPS device to her auto to track her movements.

The result of his high tech diligence was 30 days in jail. The suspicious partner was convicted of stalking his wife. Unfortunately for those embroiled in marital discord or divorce, our stalker is not alone in his choice of using electronic technology to verify his suspicions of a cheating spouse.

As these electronic devices and sophisticated spyware become more available to individuals, more suspicious spouses are using them to expose marital partner transgressions. Some family lawyers also believe this use of technology is making divorce an “arms race.” An experienced marriage counselor is on record stating that many spouses, who become concerned with potential infidelity of their partners, “become obsessed with finding out the truth.”

These are not isolated opinions. A recent report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers indicated that 92 percent of attorneys surveyed have witnessed increasing “evidence” provided by cell phones in the past three years alone. Courts are trying to define the “reasonable expectation of privacy” standard, in light of this use of spy gear.

Laws and regulations, such as the Federal Wiretap Act, protect individuals from unlawful privacy intrusions by others. Do you believe that people who employ technology like spyware on cell phones and computers are violating one or more federal laws? Is a national regulation needed to define and control the legal and illegal use of spy gear in the confines of marriage?

Source: Wall Street Journal, “A Spy-Gear Arms Race Transforms Modern Divorce,” Steve Eder and Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Oct. 5, 2012