During the divorce process, emotions run high, and suspicions may come up. It is not uncommon for people to wonder if it is legal to access their spouse’s phone to gather evidence of an affair or even find hidden assets. Today, we will explore the legality of looking through your spouse’s phone during a divorce. For questions, concerns, or anything else related to your divorce, consult an experienced divorce attorney to ensure every decision you make is legal and in your best interest.
Expectation of Privacy
In most jurisdictions, people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including within their electronic devices, such as phones. Looking through someone’s phone without permission generally violates their privacy rights. However, the rules surrounding this issue can depend on the specific situation.
Consent and Ownership
Going through someone’s phone without consent is typically considered an invasion of privacy, regardless of the fact that you are married. Personal boundaries and privacy rights still apply even if you suspect your spouse is hiding important information. It is important to remember that you probably do not have automatic permission to look through your spouse’s phone, particularly without their knowledge or consent.
Legal and Ethical Ramifications
Unauthorized phone searches during a divorce may have legal and ethical consequences. In some states, such as Illinois, unauthorized access can be deemed a criminal offense, punishable by fines or even jail time. Additionally, evidence obtained illegally may not be allowed in court, making it a major risk that might not have any payoff.
Obtaining Evidence Through Legal Means
If you suspect your spouse is hiding money or property, or is engaging in other questionable activities, you should only get evidence legally. Talk with your divorce attorney about the right way to get evidence, such as formal discovery requests, subpoenas, or forensic investigations. Doing so ensures that evidence is found legally, allowing it to be considered in your divorce case.
Exceptions to Privacy Rights
While it is usually illegal to go through someone’s phone without permission, some exceptions may justify legal access during a divorce. These exceptions may include cases where you and your spouse have explicitly agreed to share passwords or if you have a court order allowing you to get specific information from their phone. Before you do anything, however, it is important to meet with your lawyer to make sure you are not breaking the law.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Divorce Attorney
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Source – https://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/Media%20Law%20Handbook%20Chapter%2012%20-%20Right%20to%20Privacy.pdf