SPYING ON YOUR SPOUSE IN NORTH CAROLINA
Is my spouse spying on me?
We don’t know. Your spouse may spy on you in a number of ways, some easier to detect than others.
- One example of spying often comes to mind first—the use of a private investigator to follow and gather information on a person, their habits, their expenditures, their relationships, and their conversations;
- Similar to this, your spouse may simply follow you;
- Your spouse may also spy on you with video cameras or “nanny cams”;
- There is always reading all of a person’s communications such as emails, texts, mail, social media, or listening to phone calls;
- Installation of GPS tracking on a person’s vehicle or phone provides another method of spying; or
- Similar to the use of cameras your spouse may “bug” your home, office, or other common space.
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, so stay alert.
Why would my spouse spy on me?
People come up with various reasons for spying on another person, even someone they once trusted.
- Some people are simply paranoid for any number of reasons. Perhaps they’re insecure, or maybe they were hurt before and want to avoid a reoccurrence;
- Others want to control those around them, and spying is definitely a form of control. If this is the case, spying could lead to more dangerous forms of control; and you should seek help immediately;
- If you have something to hide from your spouse, they may sense that and want the truth. This could be an affair, an addiction, mis-management of money, or a lie about where you spend your time;
- They may believe your marriage faces separation or divorce, and they want to find evidence of marital misconduct to use in divorce proceedings or custody hearings. This type of information may be especially beneficial when it comes to claims for alimony. For more information on alimony, see this article; or
- A spouse who has been cheated on may even want to sue the paramour for alienation of affection or criminal conversation. There is also the possibility of criminal charges against the paramour.
Regardless of why your spouse is spying there are some steps you can take.
What are my options?
This situation does not necessarily mean your marriage is over. You have some options.
- First, as mentioned above, if your spouse’s spying shows a preliminary step to deeper control issues and you feel threatened, seek help now. Do not wait until the situation escalates. You can read our article here on Domestic Violence;
- If you have done something you are hiding from your spouse, you could simply admit it, seek reconciliation, and agree to counseling. This could be the start of a journey toward renewal in your marriage, but you should consult with a lawyer before you admit to something;
- On the other hand, if you have nothing to hide, confront your spouse and offer to share passwords or allow them to install GPS software on your phone. Total transparency goes a long way to rebuild or strengthen trust in each other;
- A candid conversation and commitment to ask the hard questions presents another way to confront your spouse when you have nothing to hide. Ask them why they feel the need to spy on you. You may choose to seek counseling with this option as well;
- You may decide to make it harder for your spouse to spy on you. A standard anti-virus software on your computer can assist with this. You may also change passwords, check for hidden “bugs,” or watch out for anyone following you. You can also hire an expert to scan your home, office, computer, or phone for hidden “bugs” or programs; or
- Once you discover your spouse is spying on you, you may decide the damage of this mistrust is irreparable. Contact us for more information about how to proceed toward divorce. For more information on what Absolute Divorce means, read this article.
If you feel threatened, or find out that your spouse has used illegal methods to spy on you, you do have options.
Do I have any legal recourse?
Domestic Violence Protective Order
If you feel threatened you may also seek a domestic violence order of protection. An order of this type would make it a crime for the person to harass, follow, or contact you. Read more about domestic violence here.
You may file a civil action against your spouse for invasion of privacy. Invasion of privacy includes each of the methods of spying listed above. In addition, issues such as persistent or harassing telephone calls or messages fall in this category. A judge may determine monetary compensation must be paid by the spying spouse to the victim. These amounts could reach into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Federal Wire Tapping Act
When a spouse installs spyware on phones or computers or records phone calls or other conversations, he or she may be in violation of this federal act. A Court has several options when it finds a person guilty. The first option simply demands the removal of any spyware or cessation of recording. The Court may fine the person up to $500 per repeat violation or even sentence a person up to five years in prison.
North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act
State law categorizes violation of this Act as a Class H Felony. Damages for this violation are $100 per day, up to $1,000. In addition to this amount, the Court may require a person to pay punitive damages and/or attorney’s fees to the victim.
What should I do now?
As always, if you feel in danger in some way, seek help immediately. If you know your spouse spies on you and you would like to seek legal protection or you plan to file for divorce, contact us today. Call us today to schedule a consultation, or click here to schedule a consultation online!