When you believe your spouse is cheating on you, or you want more leverage in a divorce, it can be very tempting to consider spousal spying. When you spy on your spouse, you can learn a lot and that can help you in the divorce. The big question is whether or not it is actually legal to do so.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act prevents a number of forms of spying on someone without their knowledge. The Act creates penalties for any person who intercepts or uses oral or wire communication with an electronic device, or accesses electronic communication while in storage. That may sound somewhat confusing, but the types of communications covered by this act include e-mails, cordless phone and wired telephone interceptions, Voice Over IP, web-streaming video, videotaping conversations or recording them, and much more.
It may seem like it is okay to spy on your spouse if they have given you access to their e-mail or a chat room previously. In this regard, they have given you access to those areas of their life, and they have authorized you to find what you will. Most courts will decide if the information found is admissible on a case-by-case basis. It could be found as implied consent but that being said, you should ensure you talk to your lawyer first.
You are allowed to record a phone conversation, but only if one person in the conversation is aware that the call is being recorded. That essentially means you cannot record your spouse talking to their lover on the phone, but you can record your spouse talking to you because you are aware that the conversation is being recorded. You also cannot record your spouse talking to your child because this would violate criminal law both on the state and federal level. If you get information through a tapping of a phone, you most likely won’t be able to share it with anyone, in terms of the information you found. You intercepted this information, and that makes it illegal to use.
If your spouse gave you their password to access their e-mail to get a bill at one point, the belief is that the password was given for that purpose and not for any other purpose. If you use that password for anything other than accessing that bill, you could be dealing with some severe criminal consequences. If you read e-mail messages, it will only be prohibited if it is intentional or an unauthorized means. If you accidentally see an e-mail from your spouse to their lover, you can use those contents in the divorce. You cannot if you intentionally looked through messages.
With all of this, you are going to want to make sure you protect yourself as well. Make sure you have firewalls on your computer and password protection on all your e-mail programs. You should also use encryption software to get an added level of security.