While new technological advancements in this digital age are surely exciting, with them comes this unfortunate reality: it is now easier than ever to keep track of the people in our lives. This is especially true in instances of separation and divorce—spouses have access to a wide variety of mobile applications, tracking devices, spyware and even private investigators that they can use to learn more about their spouse’s whereabouts, correspondence and more.
If you believe your spouse has been spying on you, it is critical to understand the issue from a legal perspective. Here, the Harford County divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law discuss spousal spying and its implications from a legal perspective.
What are the Legal Implications of Spousal Spying?
Spousal spying can take many forms, and as such, the legal implications are varied. The Maryland Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Act is just one of the laws that govern spousal spying. In Maryland, it is illegal to record a conversation unless the recorder obtains consent from everyone participating in the conversation. Using apps or spyware that tracks a spouse’s emails, phone calls or text messages in real time may also be considered illegal under these same laws.
Penalties for violating this act include fines of up to $10,000 and up to a five year imprisonment. This law only applies, however, if participants in a conversation have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Therefore, recording a conversation between two people in a public setting, such as a sidewalk or park, may not be considered illegal, but wiretapping a spouse’s phone would likely be considered illegal. Similar principles apply when recording a video or taking photos—if there is no expectation of privacy, then it is likely to be considered a legal act.
The legality of spousal spying is further complicated by property rights. While it may seem illegal for a spouse to place a GPS tracker on your car, it may be considered legal if you and your spouse jointly own the vehicle. Because of the legal uncertainty surrounding spousal spying, it is imperative to speak to a Maryland divorce attorney, such as the attorneys at Rodier Family Law, to understand your rights if you believe your spouse has been spying on you.
What Should You Do if You Believe You are a Victim of Spousal Spying?
If you believe you are a victim of spousal spying, you should immediately speak with your divorce attorney. You may also wish to file a police report, even if the spying is not technically illegal, as it will provide documentation of what has happened, which the judge presiding over your divorce may be able to consider. Your divorce attorney will have an intimate understanding of which types of actions are and are not illegal, and may be able to provide you with resources to determine exactly how your spouse is spying and how to prevent them from continuing to do so. If your spouse’s spying escalates to stalking or harassment, your divorce attorney can also assist you in filing for a restraining or protective order. No matter your situation, the Maryland divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law wish to help you feel safe and secure as you move through divorce proceedings. To learn more about spousal spying and legal action you can take against it, contact Rodier Family Law today.