Spying on a Spouse; Tempting, but Dangerous

Posted: 9 December, 2019

Very often a spouse wants to spy on the other spouse for evidence of adultery, hidden assets, drug use, or for other information that might confirm suspicious behavior.  Whether divorced or thinking of divorcing, spying is an issue that can have serious implications.

Nevada Laws On Spying

Spying on a spouse to prove infidelity may bring closure to a broken relationship, but is not legally necessary. Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, therefore the court is not generally interested if a spouse had an extra-marital affair, unless you can prove your spouse wasted a great amount of community funds on the affair.  In that event the court may take the expenses into consideration when dividing the property and give the “non-cheater” a greater share of the couple’s remaining property.

More often it is only to satisfy emotional curiosity that tempts a spouse to spy on a spouse. Resist the temptation or you may be the one in the hot seat. Most forms of clandestine gathering of incriminating evidence are illegal and can subject you to civil litigation.

Types Of Spying

Spying can cover a wide range of activities. It may include something as simple as viewing private email messages, searching a phone for texts messages, looking up social media accounts, or digging through web search history.  Or it may include technologically advanced spying activities like attaching a GPS to a spouse’s car or installing keystroke software on a spouse’s computer.

Be careful, because some of these actions may be illegal and not all of the information collected is admissible in court or relevant to your case. For instance, information on adultery is almost never relevant to a divorce or custody matter, but information on marital waste or drug use could provide an edge in a divorce or custody action.

Reviewing text messages or web history is legal if the computer or phone is not password protected. Hacking into a social media account, installing key stroke software, installing a GPS device, or hiding a recording device may violate privacy laws.

U.S. Laws On Spouse Spying

It is illegal under Federal and Nevada state law to intercept or access private electronic information kept in electronic storage, like voicemail. It is also illegal to hack your spouse’s cell phone for text messages, his or her Facebook, or  email. The only exceptions are if your spouse has given you specific authorization to access these accounts and you do so on a regular basis with the spouse’s knowledge and approval. 18 U.S.C. §2510-2521 provides for a cause of action against anyone who intentionally endeavors to intercepts any wire, oral, or electronic communication. This includes not only phone communications like texts but also computer communications like email and social media.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that law enforcement may not put a GPS on a person’s car or phone without consent or a warrant. No one knows how that will apply to spouse who attempts to track the movements of a spouse suspected of cheating, but most authorities opine that courts will eventually prohibit that kind of activity as well.

In addition to there being a cause of action against a spying spouse, if information gained from such spying is used in subsequent legal proceedings, e.g., divorce, the spying spouse’s lawyer may open him or herself to liability. In some states invasion of privacy allows a victim to sue not only the person who spied but also anyone who gives publicity to the information thereby gained.

Seeking Divorce Attorney Regarding Questions About Spying Spouse

If you have an intuition about your spouse’s mysterious behavior, financial activity, or possible romantic involvement, then discuss them with your spouse, your therapist or your Las Vegas divorce attorney.