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Digital stalking becoming problem, especially during divorce

Years ago, if a suspicious spouse wanted to keep tabs on a partner, he or she might resort to hiring a private detective to gather evidence of infidelity or other breaches of trust. While this may have been unsettling for the target of the spying, it may pale in comparison to some of the tools that are now being employed during a divorce. Pennsylvania residents who are concerned about any aspect of an impending separation or divorce may seek more information about protecting themselves.

One woman who had left a potentially abusive spouse would often seek refuge with friends without disclosing her whereabouts to him. However, he seemed to have knowledge concerning her movements that he should not possess. Furthermore, he had gained access to her private electronic communications and would send snippets back to her. The woman later discovered through the efforts of a local mechanic that her spouse had placed a GPS tracker on her car. He had also allegedly installed spyware on her personal cell phone.

Unfortunately, the laws have not always kept pace with the ways that technology can be used to spy on a partner. In one woman's case, a court ruled that her husband had a right to track the vehicle since it was jointly owned. She also was unable to obtain clear evidence that her husband had installed the spying app on her phone, as her cell service provider simply replaced her phone to solve the issue rather than search for the program that was purportedly installed on her device that was allowing her husband to track her.

There have been cases of spying spouses found guilty of violating laws who have been sentenced for their illegal activities; however, in many other cases, the courts have dismissed the allegations that have involved these tools. Many individuals simply deny the accusations and dispose of the ill-gotten information. Pennsylvania residents who are in the process of obtaining a divorce may question whether these devices have been used or have questions concerning the legality of using these methods to obtain data that may help their case. An experienced family law attorney can provide guidance as to how to ensure that one's rights are protected while seeking the best resolutions possible in each unique situation.

Source: npr.org, "I Know Where You've Been: Digital Spying And Divorce In The Smartphone Age," Aarti Shahani and Lauren Silverman, Jan. 4, 2018

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