Is it Legal to Record and Spy on Your Spouse During a Florida Divorce?
If you are undergoing a divorce in Florida, it is unfortunate. No one gets married thinking it will end. Besides the disappointment and heartbreak, there are practical considerations to consider.
Not only will your life change emotionally, but your home and income will likely be impacted. The challenge becomes dealing with the split and ensuring it is done fairly.
In some cases, one spouse may think they can put themselves at an advantage when they spy on the other to uncover alleged wrongdoing. Maybe they will find cheating, for example. A scan of the other’s private emails or computer may reveal misconduct or an attempt to hide assets.
It’s time to hit the pause button.
Your experienced Florida Divorce Attorney will advise you on what you can and cannot do to prepare for the dissolution of your marriage. Not everything you may want to do is legal, and you do not want to be putting yourself in legal jeopardy at a time like this.
Spying On Your Spouse
Simply stated, cheating is not grounds for divorce in Florida since it is a no-fault divorce state. A couple must state that their marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that they do not want to be married anymore.
Spying on your spouse using a private investigator or putting spyware on their computer revealing an affair should not impact your ability to get a divorce, and it may not give you any real advantages. In fact, quite the opposite might happen.
The downside is that you can be charged with stalking, harassing, maliciously, willfully, and repeatedly cyberstalking. This is a criminal offense in Florida (Fla. Stat. 784.048), a misdemeanor of the first degree.
You should consult a Florida divorce attorney if you plan on spying on your spouse through spyware, tracking devices, or a hidden camera.
While adultery is not the grounds for divorce in Florida, adultery can impact your pending Florida divorce in other ways.
During a Florida divorce, assets are supposed to be divided fairly and equitably, but if adultery is a cause for the divorce:
- And if the cheating spouse is diverting assets to the new interest, it can impact the eventual division of assets.
- Adultery may impact alimony, especially if assets are going missing.
- Since the best interest of the children is the goal following divorce under Florida law, a cheating spouse may lose ground in proving they are an upstanding citizen and morally fit as a parent.
So ultimately, breaking into one’s computer or hiring a private investigator may not make any difference in the ability to divorce. But information about an adulterous spouse, for example, could impact some aspects of the divorce.
The problem is that eavesdropping, wiretapping, or recording a phone call are violations of Florida’s wiretapping law, creating more significant problems for the person who thinks they have just advanced the divorce outcome.
Also, remember that Florida is a two-party consent state. That means both parties to the conversation must understand the conversation is recorded; otherwise, they could face a 3rd-degree felony charge punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Even intercepting emails is prohibited by Florida statute. You can be charged with stalking if you access a computer sitting in a room unless you have permission from the other spouse.
Another consideration is if you hack your ex-spouse’s computer, any illegal activity may be excluded from a divorce hearing, no matter what it reveals.
By all means, keep records of email conversations with your spouse during a divorce, but be very careful not to break the law, which can lead to fines and even jail time.
If you scour your ex’s Facebook or other social media and find statements about an affair, you and your attorney can safely submit this evidence to the court.
Your Florida divorce attorney should also advise you to stay off social media and any public discussion about your upcoming divorce. Those comments on a public forum are not protected speech and can be used against you. The same holds for any conversation in a public place about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, as there is no expectation of privacy.
Your Florida Family Lawyer
If you believe your ex-spouse has intercepted emails or intercepted a conversation with a recording, allow Crystal Collins Spencer to advise you on your next step. You may be entitled to civil remedies and to have any information obtained thrown out of court.
Ms. Spencer can also help you prepare for your upcoming divorce by legally gathering all the information and evidence you need to support a favorable outcome. Call her Pensacola office at (850) 912-8080 to secure an appointment or book it online.