Sadly, in many contested divorces, there are factual allegations on both sides that are often “he said/she said” disputes. Although gathering of evidence usually will reveal the truth, in many cases, a spouse may like the idea of spying on the other spouse. But is spying on a soon-to-be-ex spouse a good idea?
Spying and Surveillance
The word “spying” carries negative connotations. Surveillance may be the more appropriate term as it is something that licensed private investigators do all the time, in many different kinds of cases. When done by a professional, there is usually nothing illegal about surveillance (insurance companies follow and record victims in personal injury cases all the time). In many instances, surveillance is simply observing someone in public, where there is no expectation of privacy, or intrusion on the other person.
Legal surveillance can help in some situations. For example, a spouse may claim that he or she is too sick to work, or that he or she is only working part time, as a way to lower a child support or alimony obligation. Surveillance showing that the spouse is in fact working every day, or is otherwise healthy, can be powerful evidence to refute this kind of argument. Spouses who claim that they have limited funds, but are spotted dining out with significant others, can also be outed through the help of surveillance.
Using a Professional
For surveillance to be effective, it must be done by a professional. A court may not look favorably upon a spouse who is secretly watching the other spouse, even if it is technically legal.
You following your spouse around will usually not yield any credible evidence and your testimony will not carry as much weight as a neutral professional who tells the court what he or she observed. A professional can also gather public records on a spouse, which you would not be able to obtain.
Before spending the money and time needed to conduct surveillance, you may want to consider whether there is value in doing so. For example, before spending thousands to discover your soon-to-be-ex is seeing someone else, remember that this fact may not have any direct impact on alimony, child support, or child custody. Seeing someone going into work everyday does not necessarily mean that they are making sufficient money to pay what you want them to pay in your divorce.
Some types of spying are illegal. You should refrain from tapping phones, using eavesdropping devices (“bugs”), secretly videotaping, or hacking into online accounts using passwords that you do not have authorization to use. Not only is some of this illegal but the information you find may not even be admissible in court. It also could paint you in a negative light to the judge.
Ask your attorney whether surveillance is necessary, as often, the things you need to prevail in your divorce can be obtained in other ways, such as through depositions or the gathering of financial records.
Understand the best ways to gather the evidence you need in your divorce case. Contact The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help and guidance in your family law case.