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Law Prohibits Electronic Eavesdropping on SpouseIt should be obvious that you are not allowed to break into your spouse’s locked filing cabinet in order to obtain his or her personal documents during your divorce. The same concept applies to digital information. You are not allowed to snoop through your spouse's computer or other electronic devices to find private communications and documents. The evidence you find would be inadmissible in your divorce case, and you could face criminal charges for violating eavesdropping laws. However, you can use digital information that your spouse makes available to the public.

Electronic Eavesdropping

Eavesdropping is the act of obtaining information that a person can reasonably expect to remain private. There are several methods someone could use to eavesdrop on his or her spouse’s electronic communications or access digital documents:

  1. Unauthorized Log-In: Many computers and email accounts require a user name and password in order to access them. You may know or be able to guess your spouse’s log-in information, but you are not allowed to log in to his or her private accounts without permission.
  2. Hacking: Someone with technical savvy may be able to remotely access a person’s private digital information. Hackers can breach digital security by exploiting system weaknesses or sending an email with malicious software. Hacking into your spouse’s digital devices is a major violation of his or her privacy.
  3. Monitoring: One goal of gaining access to someone’s digital device is to install software that can track and record private conversations. If someone’s spouse was previously allowed to use a device, he or she could have installed spyware. Monitoring your spouse’s emails, texts, phone calls, and video chats is a definite violation of the eavesdropping law.

Public Information

Social media has become the big exception to the eavesdropping laws that restrict access to personal information. Your spouse cannot expect information to remain private if he or she posted it publicly on Facebook or another platform. It is legal for you to watch your spouse’s public social media activity to see if he or she says anything that may be relevant to your divorce.

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