If you are going through a divorce and believe that your soon-to-be ex has been cheating on you, you may be tempted to spy on them to get evidence of their affair. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to do so. Still, federal and state privacy laws are in place to prevent and punish behavior that rises to the level of cyberstalking. Here, the legal team with Kurtz & Blum explains how you can avoid breaking the law while protecting your privacy.
Spying on Your Spouse in a North Carolina Divorce
North Carolina allows for no-fault divorces, which means that you are not required to prove that your spouse had an affair or was otherwise responsible for the breakdown of your marriage to file for divorce. However, under North Carolina law, a spouse can sue a third party responsible for breaking up the marriage for “alienation of affection” and “criminal conversation.” Consequently, there are often incentives to gathering evidence of extra-marital activities while going through a divorce in the state. This is why many people in North Carolina look for information about “how to spy on my husband” or “how to see who your spouse is texting.” However, spying on your wife or husband may sometimes cross the line into criminal activity.
What Do Federal Laws Say About Spying?
At a federal level, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prohibits the following:
- Intentionally intercepting, using, recording, or disclosing someone else’s wire or oral communications without their consent
- Accessing others’ stored wire or electronic communications without permission
North Carolina Privacy Laws
North Carolina has a similar law called the North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act. Under this law, you are similarly prohibited from intercepting or recording the wire, oral, or electronic communications of others.
What Can I Do and Not Do?
If you’re wondering, “Is it illegal to spy on your spouse’s phone?” you should tread carefully. Some actions may be illegal and subject you to penalties in your divorce case, as well as an underlying criminal case. If you are thinking about recording your spouse for evidence of cheating, you should know how the law applies to the following behaviors:
- Recording phone calls with others – North Carolina is a one-party consent state, which means you cannot record conversations your spouse has with others unless you have consent from at least one party.
- Recording your own conversations – However, you can record conversations between you and your spouse, as long as you don’t “bug” your home phone or your spouse’s cell phone without their knowledge.
- Installing GPS tracking devices – Using any device to track the movements of another person without their knowledge is unlawful in North Carolina.
- Installing tracking software or apps – Similarly, installing keyloggers or location-tracking software or apps on your spouse’s devices is unlawful.
- Installing spyware or cameras – Surveillance is permitted in your home, but installing cameras or spyware on someone else’s property is unlawful.
- Shared devices and passwords – Any data you find via shared devices or passwords can be used as evidence in your case.
- Social media and online activity – Any information you receive directly, such as an email or a direct message, and any information posted publicly online are potentially admissible as evidence.
What Are the Penalties If I Am Convicted of Spying on My Spouse?
If you are convicted of violating state or federal laws by spying on your spouse, you could face serious penalties, such as court injunctions, steep fines, or even jail time.
How to Protect Your Privacy
You can protect yourself from being the victim of cyberstalking or spying by:
- Using easy-to-recall but hard-to-guess passwords and changing them regularly
- Setting up separate phone lines or emails to communicate with your attorney
- Checking the apps and settings on your devices regularly for unfamiliar items
- Checking for web searches for queries like “how to find out who your spouse is texting for free” or “is it illegal to go through your spouse’s phone,” which can indicate your spouse is actively trying to go through your private information
- Avoiding all social media activity while your divorce case is ongoing
Why You Need an Attorney
Evidence of spousal misconduct can be valuable in a North Carolina divorce case, but you must obtain that evidence legally. The knowledgeable family law attorneys of Kurtz & Blum can advise you on your rights and help you establish a strong foundation for your case. Contact us today to get started with your confidential case review.