Considering spying on your spouse? Is it legal?

Privacy is not so private anymore. It was not too long ago that the best mechanism to spy on your spouse was to hire a private investigator to monitor your spouse to provide evidence of salacious conduct or confirm your suspicions. Boy have things changed!


Spying on your spouse video (c) 2024 Findling Law.

Spousal spying can be as simple as glancing at your spouses’ phone when he/she stepped aside to search for suspicious messages, reviewing credit card charges for inappropriate activity or following up on a hunch. However, modern technology has made spying on your spouse much more complicated (and possibly against the law).

For example, secretly turning on “location services” on your spouse’s iPhone (or Android as the case may be) to covertly track where your spouse is at any given time is now normal. The countermeasure is for a spouse to have a second phone, often called a “burner phone”, “pre-paid phone” or “bat phone” that is used to facilitate inappropriate conduct. Simply put, if your spouse has a second phone, it may be a cause for alarm.

Surveillance equipment previously available to government intelligence agencies are now commonplace. Secret spy cameras hidden in smoke detectors or speakers, GPS trackers, keyboard loggers and smartphone spy applications are commonplace and can be used to secretly spy on your spouse. Somthing as simple as a baby monitor can also be used to secretly capture video and voice by hiding it in a room where your partner spends a lot of time.

Although computer search history can be easily erased, in many instances computer search history can be restored by simply restoring a previous version on an application. You can also use a keyboard logger, which is tracking software used to record each keystroke made on a specific computer keyboard without your spouse knowing.

There are dozens of smartphone and computer applications to covertly spy on your spouse as well. Some of the more popular smartphone applications are: MSpy, uMobix, Spynger, eyeZy, Phonsee, Moniterro, FlexiSPY, XNSPY and Aispyer which may include features such as recording browsing history, GPS tracking, reports on social media application usage, email monitoring, phone call monitoring, keylogging, and SMS recording. If you think your spouse has installed spy applications on your phone, check your phone permissions to see what applications are installed or have access to your microphone or camera.

Certain types of spousal spying are against the law

While using location services to track your spouse is legal, it is a crime in Michigan to use a GPS tracker on a vehicle owned or leased by your spouse without his/her knowledge or consent (see: Michigan Compiled Law section 750.539l). However, if you own or lease the vehicle your spouse drives, installing a GPS tracking device does not violate the statute.

Similarly, the Michigan eavesdropping statute, Michigan Compiled Law section 750.539c, prohibits any person who is not present during a private conversation to use any device to eavesdrop upon the conversation without the consent of all of the parties. The statute does not prohibit someone from secretly record a conversation that he/she is participating in.

Federal law also prohibits certain types of spousal spying. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (U.S.C. §§ 2510-2523), wiretap act prohibits the intentional (or attempted) interception of any wire, oral or electronic communication with limited exceptions. (U.S.C. §§ 2510-2523), Stored Wire Electronic Communicatons Act protects the pricacy and contents of files shared on service providedrs and USA Patriot Act provides additional limitations on intercepting emails, telephone conversations and electronically stored date.

Be careful, be smart and call us. Let it be our privilege to help you manage your situation.

By: Daniel Findling (c) 2024.

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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.


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