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Divorcing spouses are increasingly spying on one another

Rhode Island family law attorneys and judges say that they're seeing what one lawyer called a "deluge of spy versus spy in Family Court." Our own Brenda Rioles notes, "It's become almost commonplace."

Divorcing spouses are using GPS tracking devices, surveillance cameras and computer spyware to find out where their soon-to-be exes are going, what they're doing and what their legal strategy is. Some even go so far as to sew recording devices into their children's clothing or give them a watch that, unbeknownst to them, tracks their location when they're with their other parent. These surveillance devices are becoming not just more sophisticated and easier to hide, but more affordable.

What Rhode Islanders who are tempted to spy on their spouses need to know that it could be a crime. For example, a 2016 law designed to protect domestic violence and stalking victims made it illegal to put a tracking device on a vehicle without the driver's approval. Installing a software program on a person's computer to access his or her emails from your own device can result in felony charges.

Family law attorneys who find out that their clients are considering or have already engaged in these types of spying advise them that not only could they wind up in legal jeopardy, but a judge will toss out any evidence obtained that way. As Rioles says, "All you can do as an attorney is lead them down the best path you can ethically and morally."

Some people engage in these activities out of jealousy, anger, spite or a need to control their spouse, perhaps with no intention of using the information to help their case. That's why attorneys caution their clients to take actions to protect their privacy. This includes changing and securing their passwords on all of their private and financial information and turning off any type of tracking apps on their and their children's phones and other devices.

If you suspect or have evidence that your estranged spouse has been spying on you in some manner, it's essential to tell your family law attorney immediately. He or she can help you determine the best course of action.

Source: Providence Journal, "When Rhode Island spouses become spies," Katie Mulvaney, accessed April 05, 2018

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