When Can You Spy on Your Spouse – GPS Trackers, Email Hacking, Nanny Cams

tree iconAfter sharing your life with a person, you get to know their normal patterns of behavior.  Sometimes before or during a divorce, your spouse’s behavior changes and you may begin to suspect something is wrong.  Maybe you suspect your spouse of infidelity or hiding assets or income.  Whatever the issue, in such a situation, a spouse who is suspicious that his or her partner may be tempted to take steps to find out the truth.  With advancing technology in the areas of GPS tracking, keystroke loggers, and small “nanny cams,” you may be tempted to invest in these methods in order to find out what your spouse is hiding.  In general, these measures are ill-advised.

person using cell phone

First, there are very specific state and federal laws regarding wiretapping which may very well apply to using a nanny cam.  Minnesota is what is called a “one party consent” state, which means that at least one person in a conversation must consent if that conversation is being recorded.  Therefore, if you place a nanny cam that records sound in an area in your home, it is likely you may record conversations between two people who are unaware the conversation is being recorded, thereby running afoul of Minn. Stat. § 626A.02, Subd. 2(d).  Moreover, installing a camera in your home in a place where your spouse has an expectation of privacy may also violate privacy laws.

Installing trackers or keystroke loggers on computers or cell phones is another choice that may present more problems than solutions for a curious spouse.  The legality of installing these programs or apps on a computer or smartphone is a gray area when that phone or computer is jointly owned.  Although there have been cases when a court has ruled that placing a GPS tracker on a jointly owned car is permissible, it can also backfire.  This type of behavior could be construed as stalking or harassment, even if the person placing the tracker is a part owner of the vehicle.

In addition to the strictly legal nature of spying on your spouse, you also need to consider how such an action will be viewed by a judge.  Even if, for example, placing a GPS tracker is strictly legal and falls short of the definition of stalking, a court may still take a negative view of a parent who is constantly tracking every move of the other parent without his or her knowledge.  Accordingly, the judge could choose to weigh this controlling behavior when making a custody determination.

It is natural to want more information when you are going through a divorce, and we have experience helping our clients to get information the right way so it can be used to their advantage in a court hearing.  Contact us today at (651) 371-9117 and let us answer your questions and help you achieve your goals.