When one member of a couple decides they want a divorce, you might anticipate hurt feelings on the other side. You could predict anger, resentment and a drawn-out legal battle. What you might not expect, however, is that your ex may digitally stalk you, to trace your every move – and that this behavior could even be considered legal.
In this age of nearly unlimited connectivity and rapidly advancing technology, cases of cyber-stalking between divorcing couples is becoming increasingly common. The Department of Justice has found that 3.3% of divorced or separated couples in the United States are victims of cyber-stalking – which is more than twice the national average. A recent report identified the different types of digital spying that aggrieved exes have frequently engaged in.
In some cases, an ex may seek to follow their spouse’s movements. They may covertly install a GPS tracking device on their spouse’s car in order to monitor their whereabouts. Another common strategy is to hack an ex’s phone-locating feature – such as Find My iPhone.
In addition, the installation of spyware on an ex’s phone or computer can provide a resentful spouse with a direct view of everything their ex types – such as text message content, online bank account passwords and web searches – in addition to all incoming messages. An angry ex may try to use evidence gathered in this manner as proof of infidelity.
While the above behavior may seem like a blatant infringement of privacy, the legality of such monitoring practices isn’t entirely clear. In the case of vehicle tracking, for instance, your ex may be legally permitted to install such technology on your car if you both jointly own the vehicle.
Secretly installing spyware is legal to do on one’s child’s phone but is typically considered illegal to do on a spouse’s phone. However, if you suspect that you may be the victim of such an offense, hiring a digital expert to diagnose your device and uncover evidence of spyware can be costly. Victims may be more inclined to swap out their device for another one.
If you suspect your ex has been digitally spying on you, it’s important to find a dedicated divorce attorney who can help you figure out your best options. Understanding your rights and available protections is a valuable first step.