Spousal Spying in a North Carolina Divorce

Divorce proceedings can put a strain on your mental health, regardless of the circumstances that led you to act. That said, those proceedings do not give you leeway to behave in ways that violate a partner’s privacy.

Similarly, you are entitled to mid-process privacy. Your spouse should not have access to your phone, computer, or GPS. Once you know what your rights look like within the state of North Carolina, you can more effectively protect yourself throughout your divorce.

Privacy in North Carolina

Even as the world has grown more digitally adept, laws instituted before the heyday of the internet continue to protect North Carolina residents from surveillance. The Federal Wiretap Act of 1968 now serves as the baseline by which state residents are expected to abide, even while undergoing a divorce.

Nowadays, the Federal Wiretap Act works in tandem with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. This act dictates that, on a federal level, one party may be punished for attempting to intercept or otherwise interfere with a spouse’s online communications without consent. Parties who feel their rights have been violated can contact an attorney serving greater North Carolina.

Illegal Spying During a Divorce

North Carolina supports federal privacy statutes with caveats of its own. Residents in the state can face legal consequences if accused of engaging in spousal spying of any form. Some of the most common forms of illegal spousing in the state include:

Recording a Partner’s Conversations

The state of North Carolina operates on a one consent policy. This policy notes that a person may only record another person’s conversations if at least one of the parties in that conversation has consented to the recording.

What does this mean for couples undergoing a divorce? The spouse who wants to record the conversation may do so without fear of legal consequences. However, no one may record their spouse and other parties speaking without requesting consent from at least one of those parties.

This policy applies to in-person conversations as well as to those conducted over the phone. 

Cyberspying in a Divorce

The digital age has inspired spouses to explore new ways to keep an eye on one another’s behavior. Fortunately, most states, including North Carolina, fight to ensure that each individual is entitled to a modicum of privacy, even from their spouse. 

The North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act notes that no spouse may install keylogging technology onto their partner’s computer. A keylogger traditionally allows the person who installs it to know what kind of content their spouse searches for online. However, the use of a keylogger or any other surveillance app installed on a computer without a partner’s consent can net the installer legal fines.

GPS Tracking

A person who believes their spouse may be cheating on them may find themselves tempted to place a subtle GPS tracker in their spouse’s car. North Carolina addresses this urge, however, to discourage this kind of behavior.

Parties who are considering tracking their spouses’ movements can refer to North Carolina General Statute §14-196.3(b)(5). This statute both defines the state’s understanding of an electronic device and notes that to install such a device, the installer must have their name on the affiliated vehicle’s title.

Any party who places a discrete tracking device in a car that they do not own can face legal consequences. As such, spouses should avoid using such means to track one another, even if undergoing a divorce or separation.

Consequences for Spousal Spying

The consequences for any of the aforementioned behaviors will vary based on their severity and the behavior of the accused. That said, convictions can result in court-ordered injunctions, fines, and even jail time, depending on whether they go to criminal or civil court. These consequences are further outlined by the North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act.

Discuss Spousal Spying with a North Carolina Divorce Attorney

If you’re concerned about spousal spying, or you want to better understand your mid-divorce rights, you’re not alone. Get in touch with King Law to learn more about your legal standing. A North Carolina divorce lawyer can defend your rights and help you set reasonable boundaries with an ex-spouse.

To schedule your initial case consultation with our office, you can call (888) 748-5464 or fill out our contact form.