Are you being watched? Many divorcing spouses claim they're being spied on. But if you do track your spouse with the car GPS, is the evidence admissible in court?
More divorce lawyers are successfully arguing that evidence from digital spying invades the privacy rights of the spouse, and therefore cannot be used in a divorce proceeding. But there are exceptions.
When Can You Track Your Spouse by GPS?
When it comes to GPS tracking, it depends on who owns the car. For example, when non-matrimonial property is involved, spying on another person is a contravention of their Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The precedent on GPS tracking and privacy rights was set in 2012 when the police tracked a drug dealer without a warrant (United States v. Jones).
But if you're tracked by your spouse in your jointly owned car, the privacy laws on GPS tracking do not apply. That being the case, when a New Jersey husband was tracked by GPS in his car by his wife, he could not sue the wife. Instead, he sued the private investigator to whom the wife passed on the GPS information (Villanova v. Innovative Investigations). Because the car was jointly owned, the judge deemed the wife's actions to be legal. The court further clarified that the location of his privately owned car was public information. Therefore, his wife did not invade his privacy by collecting the GPS data.
When Can You Track Your Child By GPS?
When sharing joint custody of your children, can you place a GPS tracker in their overnight bags? In this case, the child is jointly co-parented by the spouses, but a child is not a car.
Whne it comes to your children, tracking them via GPS is acceptable if the courts order it. In more divorce custody cases, judges are mandating the use of co-parenting apps with GPS tracking. But if the GPS is not court-ordered, you may be invading his or her privacy rights.
When in a custody hearing, if you're accused of contravening the constitutional rights of your children or ex-spouse, it could weaken your credibility. Your family divorce attorney can advise you on when it's legal to use a co-parenting app.
If you suspect your spouse is using electronic means to track you or your child, contact your divorce lawyer. Gaining sole control of the property being used for spying is one way to protect your privacy.