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Digital spying becoming common in divorce

Thumbnail image for gps.jpgDue to the affordability and ubiquity of GPS tracking devices and spyware, checking in on a spouse's whereabouts and activities is alarmingly frequent in divorce. This can involve things like checking email and monitoring social media posts, of course, but there is much more to it than that.

For example, National Public Radio recently aired a piece on a woman going through divorce who discovered that her soon-to-be ex had placed a tracking device on her car, without her knowledge, months after she filed for divorce. While clearly unethical, the law can be cloudy when it comes to things like placing GPS tracking devices on vehicles. In this case, prosecutors did not charge the spouse with any crimes since he owned it jointly - meaning he could place whatever devices he wanted in or on it.

It is important to note, however, that state laws vary and may change. And it is certainly possible to be charged criminally under Pennsylvania and New Jersey stalking laws.

Even if it is legal, it is not wise

Regardless of its legality, resorting to such tactics is not a good idea. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, like all states, no longer require grounds for divorce. So trying to track down a spouse committing adultery, for example, is at best a waste of time.

If you think your spouse is hiding income, then investigating is appropriate. However, this should be done through proper channels. Tell your divorce lawyer, who can help you get an experienced forensic accountant and use other financial tools to investigate.

Tracking your spouse's whereabouts and hacking into personal accounts is not beneficial.

What to do if you suspect digital spying

If you suspect your spouse is digging into personal information, common-sense security steps should be your first priority. Change personal login and password information. Avoid posting your whereabouts on social media.

If you have reason to believe you are being tracked, check your car for GPS tracking devices or have your car checked in a shop. You may also want to separate your phone subscription from your spouse, and may wish to erase a laptop hard drive or trade in your smartphone.

If you believe you are in immediate danger, call 911. You can also get a restraining order if your spouse is threatening or stalking you.

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