Catching a Cheating Spouse in North Carolina

Common Signs of Cheating

One fundamental truth of human relationships is this – all of them have their ups and downs.  This is true in even the healthiest of marriages. Sometimes, one spouse is simply having a bad week, or a bad month.  All of us do – it’s just human nature.  This means that not all changes in behavior should be considered as reason for suspicion, or as proof of cheating.  In other instances, however, and particularly when certain behaviors are repeated over a long period of time, they may be cause for concern.  Some of these behaviors include:

  • Your spouse is less interested in spending time with you than normal;
  • Your spouse has decreased interest in your sexual relationship;
  • Your spouse’s grooming habits have changed significantly;
  • Your spouse is spending more money and time on their appearance;
  • Your spouse’s work routine has changed significantly;
  • Your spouse is having to go out of town far more often;
  • Your spouse is being more secretive with their phone or computer.

While these are some common signs associated with infidelity, they are certainly not the only ones.  Obviously, each person knows his or her own spouse best, and knows what behaviors

What NOT to Do

We live in a highly advanced digital age – one that is constantly evolving, almost with each passing day. In so many ways, all of the technology at our fingertips makes life easier, and keeps us more connected than ever before.  On the other hand, the highly advanced technology available to us at all times makes spying on a spouse easier – and more tempting – than ever before too.

It’s understandable that spying is tempting.  Some spouses spy because they simply want vindication of their suspicions.  Others may want to gather evidence to use in upcoming divorce proceedings.   Whatever the reasons, spying unfortunately happens quite often. Different methods of spousal spying include installing spyware on a computer or phone, placing hidden video cameras around the house, or even placing a GPS tracking devices in cars.

While there are no shortage of ways to spy, what is very important to know is that certain methods of spying are actually illegal, and in violation of both federal and North Carolina wiretapping laws.  Engaging in this sort of spying could expose you to serious legal liability, and should be avoided, no matter how tempting it may be.

Federally, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA for short, makes it a crime to intercept or use either oral or wire communications with an electronic device, or to access electronic communication while in storage.  This is essentially a complex way of saying that you cannot gain access to these types of communications without authorization from the party sending or receiving the information. This means that it is illegal  to wiretap and/or otherwise record telephone conversations that your spouse has without their consent, that it is illegal to install certain types of email spyware on your spouse’s computer or other personal electronic device, or “hack” into your spouse’s email account without authorization to do so.

The North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act provides much of the same information as the federal law we just mentioned, and North Carolina also has laws with respect to computer-related crimes.  Under those laws it is illegal to gain access to another person’s computer, system, program, or network without authorization. North Carolina also recognizes a cause of action known as “Intrusion upon Seclusion,” which essentially means that invasion of privacy is recognized in North Carolina as grounds for a lawsuit.

Consultation with an attorney to better understand the details of those laws would be a wise course of action, as ultimately, violations of the aforementioned federal and state laws can result in court ordered injunctions, civil damages, and/or criminal penalties.  As a result, it’s always best to think carefully about the behavior that you want to engage in, and whether it would ultimately be worth it in the long run.

What You Can Do

Now that you know what you can’t do, you may understandably be wanting to know what you can do if you suspect your spouse of cheating and want to attempt to confirm your suspicions.  Some of the methods commonly used with success include:

  • Hire a Private Investigator: One of the most frequently used means of attempting to catch a cheating spouse is to hire a private investigator.  Professionally trained private investigators have the resources necessary to investigate a situation, and understand how to do so in a legal way, including utilizing various methods of surveillance like tracking your spouse’s movements, taking photos of your spouse (and of the individual with whom your spouse is having an affair), running background checks on individuals your spouse associates with, utilizing vehicle tracking devices, and more.  If you are pursuing a divorce and wish to gather evidence of a spouse’s affair or other inappropriate behaviors by using a private investigator, it is always wise to consult your attorney prior to doing so.  A good attorney will be able to recommend a private investigator who will gather evidence in accordance with the law, and which will contribute to your overall theory of the case.
  • Be Social Media Savvy: While social media is wonderful in many ways, helping us to keep up with friends and family, and allowing us to share our lives with those we care about, it can often also serve as the spark that fans a would-be affair into a flame.  Prior to social media, a breakup typically meant the end of the romantic relationship, and also the end of the parties’ interaction with one another.  Typically, parties would not keep up with one another’s lives, or be constantly aware of what the other was doing.  Social media has created a new reality.  Today, keeping up with an ex is as easy as typing their name into a search bar.  Reaching out to an ex is as easy as typing a quick message and pressing “send”.  As a result, social media is often a common source of rekindled romances, not to mention an easy way to flirt and interact with acquaintances or even strangers – flirtations that often eventually lead to more.  While it is ill-advised to “hack” into your spouse’s social media account if you don’t know the password, it is not at all illegal to keep track of the information you do have access to.  Noting who commonly likes and comments on your spouse’s posts, keeping track of new “friend” connections, and noticing clues in photos that your spouse or others post – all of these methods are legal and entirely reasonable ways to look for evidence of suspicious behavior.
  • Look at the Evidence Already Around You: While engaging in activities like wiretapping and hacking into electronic accounts without permission is illegal and ill-advised, there is nothing to prevent you from carefully analyzing the evidence that is already around you. There is nothing wrong with following your spouse to see where they are going.  There’s nothing wrong with asking the phone company for a list of calls made from and received by an account that the two of you share.  Sometimes these lists can be very telling – if you start seeing the same number show up repeatedly, or at odd times of the day, that may be a clue.  You can also keep closer track of your finances – is your spouse spending more money than usual?  Making extravagant purchases?  Going out to dinner and then not mentioning it to you?  All of this information can be very helpful, and it is entirely legal to gather it.

When to Contact an Attorney

In an ideal world, our relationship with our spouse would always stay as faithful and happy and strong as it was from the beginning.  In an ideal world, suspicions of infidelity would turn out only to be a figment of the imagination – and in some cases, this is true.   Sometimes, however, less than ideal situations turn out to be true, too.  In situations where you strongly suspect infidelity, or have in fact discovered infidelity and feel the need to move forward with either the investigation process, or the divorce process, it is wise to retain knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel who can help you through this difficult time. At the Law Office of Dustin S. McCrary, that’s what we’re here for.  Call us today.

We’ll meet you right where you are.

You can trust our compassionate expertise to help you navigate the legal and emotional difficulties of divorce.

Where clients are neighbors, not numbers.