Technology is changing the way divorce cases are litigated in Virginia. Many people are turning to devices like GPS trackers and spyware to keep tabs on their spouses.
GPS trackers are now cheap and easy to install on vehicles. There have been many cases where individuals used one of these devices to see where their spouses were traveling. These tools can be easily hidden so that the person being spied on may have no idea. The use of GPS tracking devices may be legal if the parties are married and the device was installed on a jointly owned vehicle.
Spyware is also cheap and easy to install and can be used to see what websites someone is browsing and the messages being sent to and from his or her phone. Parents are generally allowed to install this type of software on their children's phones, but putting it on a spouse's phone without consent is illegal.
Using technology to track a spouse may be considered a form of stalking. People who discover that their partners have been secretly spying on them without their knowledge may feel betrayed. This type of technology is increasingly being used as evidence in divorce cases.
When their clients want to use digital evidence against their spouses in court, family law attorneys may be put in a difficult position. Disclosing evidence of the illegal use of spyware could possibly expose some clients to criminal prosecution for wiretapping and intercepting electronic communications. If the evidence was legally obtained, some lawyers may present it in court if it will help their clients' cases.
If their clients have been a victim of digital spying, attorneys may use the evidence to demonstrate their spouses' character. This can be important in child custody cases if there has been a pattern of stalking or abuse in the relationship.