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Spying During Divorce Becoming Big Business

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Oct 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a lengthy article discussing a recent boom in business related to spying on spouses prior to and during a divorce. A combination of suspicious husbands and wives along with increasingly affordable high-tech gadgets have made it much easier for ordinary people to spy on their significant others.

It used to be that such technology was only available to law enforcement officials or others with very large budgets. Now the technology appears to be trickling down to ordinary consumers. Some of the lawyers interviewed by the Wall Street Journal said divorce is being turned into a battle. One said that every single infidelity case they've seen originated with spying. Those who have doubts can now very easily begin digging into the private lives of those they love and eventually find answers.

Three companies that sell GPS trackers said sales are soaring. One company, BrickHouse Security, said that sales of tiny devices that can be placed in a bag or on clothes have jumped by 50% for each of the past three years. Another maker, LandAirSea Systems Inc., said sales of its devices which magnetically attach to cars are already surpassing 2011's full-year sales.SpygearGadgets.com said sales of nanny cams and other hidden cameras are up 40% this year, and GPS tracking devices are up almost 80%.

Nearly every expert interviewed by the Journal agrees that snooping is on the rise. A February report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 92% of lawyers surveyed had seen an increase in evidence from smartphones the past three years, especially mentioning the boom in use of text messages, emails, call histories and GPS location information.

One problem associated with this behavior is invasion of privacy. The legality of spousal spying is complicated as courts across the country are not in agreement over what constitutes a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a marriage. In one 2011 Nebraska case, a mother who placed a listening device in her daughter's teddy bear to record the girl's father was found guilty of violating the Federal Wiretap Act. And in a 2008 Iowa ruling, a court ruled that a man had violated his wife's privacy by taping her with a camera that had been installed in an alarm clock in their bedroom.

All together, at least five of the 13 U.S. circuit courts have found that the Federal Wiretap Act does prohibit surveillance within marriages. But at least two have ruled the exact opposite, saying that the law does not prohibit recording your spouse.

Another concern for those doing the snooping is the possibility of a stalking charge. If the information is used to harass or intimidate someone, a person can face prosecution for stalking or related offenses. Spouses using spying tools could also run into trouble with wiretap, cybercrime or trespass laws, and may even expose themselves to civil suits.

Given the potential legal trouble associated with spying on your spouse, it's best to avoid any such stealthy operations until you've spoken with an experienced South Carolina family law attorney who can advise you on your specific situation.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of a divorce, separation, child custody, or other family-related issue, you need the help of an experienced South Carolina family law attorney to guide you through the difficult process.  You are invited to contact our attorneys at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an appointment to determine how we can assist you through this process.

Source:A Spy-Gear Arms Race Transforms Modern Divorce,” by Steve Eder, published at WSJ.com.

About the Author

J. Benjamin Stevens

Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Ben is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocates. He is one of only four attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. To schedule a consultation with Ben Stevens call (864) 598-9172.

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