Divorce is difficult for everyone going through it. Things are especially hard if you suspect that your spouse is having an affair. It is incredibly tempting to peek at your spouse’s emails or Facebook account in an effort to learn the truth or gather evidence, but be careful! Looking at email or Facebook without permission can land you in hot water with the judge in your divorce and law enforcement.
Infidelity destroys marriages. Once trust is lost it is nearly impossible to regain. Only through honest, hard work on both sides and significant amounts of counseling are couples able to save their marriages. But what if you suspect your spouse is cheating, but he or she won’t come clean?
An alarming number of affairs begin online. Facebook has become a hotbed of infidelity as old flames or out of town friends are able to reconnect. If you add to that feelings of disconnectedness or disinterest in the marriage then cheating becomes a real possibility. Email allows long distance communication that has the appearance of privacy. This allows people to explore relationships and taboos that they normally wouldn’t pursue.
If you feel like your spouse may be cheating on you the evidence is probably on their computer. The temptation to take a look is almost overwhelming. And the evidence that is gained from inspecting email is often incredibly potent in the courtroom. The problem is that gaining access to your spouse’s email or Facebook account could be a felony!
The current laws prohibit unauthorized access of another person’s computer. These laws were intended to prevent hackers and others from accessing private information for criminal purposes such as identity theft. Recently some prosecutors have attempted to expand them to include husbands reading their wives’ emails. The prosecutors approach this as the same type of invasion of privacy regardless of whether the parties are married or not.
The law is not completely settled on this matter. The statutes as written have loopholes or grey areas for husband/wife situations. Some prosecutors refuse to accept these types of cases. Some judges in divorces don’t bat an eye when presented with evidence gained in this manner. On the other hand some prosecutors have nothing better to do than pursue these type of cases and some judges become livid when finding out one party has invaded the privacy of the other in this manner.
The question that you have to ask is “is it worth the risk?” The answer is generally no. There are other ways to accomplish your goals. The easiest is to take the computer in question to a computer expert and have them make a copy of the hard drive where the suspect emails are stored. This allows you to have a copy and prevents the destruction of possibly evidence. Then you can approach the privacy question with the help of a lawyer and avoid accusations of invasion of privacy.