There are reasons you have decided to end your marriage. Divorce can bring out the secrets of your spouse. You may discover things about your spouse that will change your thoughts, or confirm what you only suspected. You may find out that your husband has a couple of secret bank accounts. You may find out that your wife is having an affair.
These suspicions are enough for anyone to contemplate putting security cameras inside of your house to monitor your spouse’s actions. But is that legal? Can the recordings be presented in court? How will secret cameras affect your divorce moving forward? If you suspect your spouse of illegal actions and are considering installing cameras in your home without your spouse’s knowledge, it’s important to talk to a family law attorney about the dangers of spousal spying in New Jersey and how it could impact your divorce or child custody case. Read on to find out about the spousal spying and privacy laws in New Jersey from the New Jersey divorce and family law attorneys at Stolfe Zeigler.
What is Spousal Spying?
Putting up surveillance cameras around your house would be considered spousal spying. Spousal spying covers a range of activities where spouses spy on one another.
These activities include:
- Gaining access to your spouse’s social media accounts without permission
- Installing spyware on your spouse’s devices
- Gaining access to your spouse’s email accounts without permission
- Installing a GPS device in your spouse’s vehicle to track their movement
- Hiring a private investigator to follow your spouse around
- Listening to phone calls without your spouse’s permission
You and your spouse may have willingly shared this information in your marriage. That is why it is often difficult to pinpoint when spousal spying has happened.
Why Spouses Spy On Each Other During Divorce
At the root of spousal spying is mistrust. You may want to catch your spouse doing something unethical or illegal and use it against them in the divorce process. Your spouse may have been involved in an affair, and you want proof. Maybe your spouse is taking money out of your marital account and spending it on unknown purchases.
Some divorces are so tumultuous that there is no reason. Your spouse may be paranoid and accuse you of actions that you’re not doing. In any case, secretly installing cameras in your home can hurt you in the divorce process. You could be accused of violating your spouse’s privacy.
New Jersey Privacy Laws and Spousal Spying
Even if you think your reasons are valid, you don’t want to spy on your spouse in New Jersey. There are serious consequences for spouses who spy on their partners. Nearly every spying activity is considered illegal under New Jersey privacy laws.
Video surveillance may be considered legal based on certain circumstances. Some courts have determined that it may be legal for surveillance cameras to be installed in the marital home. The reasoning is that a spouse has no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to someone with whom they share a home. In fact, in many homes video surveillance cameras are routinely installed as part of the home security system.
However, there are also occasions where video surveillance of a spouse has been considered a federal and state law violation. It often depends on where the cameras are located in the home, and the type of harm you’re trying to identify. For example, trying to protect your mutual child could be a very different situation than suspecting your spouse of having an affair.
In some cases, you can be committing federal violations when you violate your spouse’s privacy. There are federal and state laws that prohibit spouses from invading their spouse’s privacy. The Federal Wiretap Act was passed in 1968. The federal act has also expanded its definition of communications to include digital and video devices.
Following suit was the New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act. These acts were passed to prevent wire and oral communications from being intercepted.
Your spouse could argue that your surveillance activities are examples of federal wiretapping. If you use a hidden camera to catch your spouse in questionable activities, the courts may consider it illegal wiretapping.
There are some exceptions to New Jersey privacy and wiretap laws if you and your spouse share electronic devices, an email account or other circumstances.
Legal Consequences of Spying on Your Spouse
If your spouse feels their privacy rights are violated, they may file a civil lawsuit against you. You may face criminal penalties as well. Another serious consequence is that all of your surveillance will be inadmissible. That means that no matter how incriminating, your surveillance footage will not be considered in the divorce proceeding.
That is why spousal spying never benefits in the long run. It won’t be used even if you find evidence supporting your suspicions. It was discovered illegally.
What if My Spouse Has Been Spying on Me?
You have as much of a right to privacy as your spouse. If you discover that your spouse has been spying on you, you don’t have the right to retaliate. Instead, you should speak with a family law and divorce attorney about your legal options. You may be able to file a lawsuit against your spouse or pursue more severe penalties.
Whatever you choose, talk to an experienced family law attorney. Seeking legal action will automatically stop your spouse from spying on you. They may even be forced to pay fines. In some cases, your spouse may be at risk of facing years in prison for invasion of privacy.
Protecting What Matters Most
Call Our New Jersey Family Law Attorneys Today
Divorce is a complex legal matter in itself. It can become even more difficult to navigate when privacy laws have been violated. At Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group, our divorce and family law attorneys can find a solution that works for your unique situation. Every marriage is different, and our legal team takes the time to understand the nature of your circumstances.
Call our office at 732-240-9555, or submit our contact form. We guide our clients to the right path toward emotional and financial resolution.