The temptation to log onto your cheating spouse’s computer, websites, apps, bank accounts, cell phones, etc., is strong – particularly when he or she is hiding an affair, finances, or more.
Is it all fair game? Is this criminal behavior? Worse?
The answer is tricky. It depends on the circumstances, of course, but hacking into your spouse’s tech is almost always a terrible idea that can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Here are a few examples and the potential effects:
- The passwords to all of your spouse’s accounts are set to auto on the family computer. Can you pull them up and copy the statements or take down the information? No, if the account is solely in your spouse’s name. Yes, if it is a jointly titled account.
- You see a text on your spouse’s phone. It is clearly from someone he/she is having an affair with. You know your spouse’s cell phone password. Can you text your spouse’s cheating partner and blow the whistle? Probably not, because you hacked the password. Your spouse had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Consequences could include your credibility when it comes to child custody, alimony, a division of assets, and more.
- You are browsing through the family computer and see your spouse has visited a popular website used for seeking an affair. You know the password he or she always uses for everything. But logging into that account would be a no-no.
- How about setting up a video-audio feed to catch your spouse talking to someone, explaining how they plan to hide all the assets? Also “nope.” Recordings like these violate a wiretap law, especially if it is a phone line. It could end up being both a Federal and state crime. Bad idea.
- Your spouse has both bank accounts and credit cards in his or her own name. You go online, change all of the passwords, drain the assets, and run up the charge accounts. Hopefully, we can agree that this would be a very bad idea with very serious consequences.
Let’s talk about the consequences of hacking into your spouse’s tech for a minute. Here are a few challenges you may encounter if you violate the reasonable expectation of the privacy of your spouse by using his or her password to access accounts:
- Federal criminal charges for violating wiretap laws. Federal prisons are not fun!
- State criminal charges for the same conduct. State prisons are even worse.
- Loss of credibility. Once you lose credibility with a judge, you will never get it back, and that translates into bad results for court.
- Loss of child custody or less visitation and access. If the judge cannot trust you because you violated your spouse’s privacy, you will rarely get any benefits form the court. Instead, you will get slammed.
- Financial costs could be extreme. Violating the privacy of your spouse makes your divorce case more expensive. Counsel fees, expert fees, criminal lawyer fees – you name it, you will pay for it.
It is abundantly clear that hacking into spousal accounts of any kind is a horrible idea that can have extraordinarily devastating consequences. It could cost you money and even custody of your children.
This is a tension-filled time. Seek counsel from an experienced divorce attorney for guidance in making sound decisions. SIEGELLAW can help. Call us at 410-792-2300 or fill out the form on this page to request additional information.