Is Snooping on Your Spouse Legal?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 04, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Technology makes it increasingly easy for a husband or wife to snoop around their loved one's digital accounts. But, tracking your spouse's digital and physical movements may be crossing a line. Reading a spouse's e-mail may seem innocent enough, but it can land you in some trouble.

In fact, one Michigan man faced a harsh price for some digital spying: felony charges. He found out that his wife was cheating on him by reading some of her e-mails. He was charged with unauthorized access of a computer.

Whether or not a crime was committed is unclear.

The law as it applies to this area is gray. Traditionally, hacking laws are targeted toward those who are third parties. The laws may also vary depending on the state. In the Michigan case, the husband actually purchased the computer for his wife. Can he actually be liable for hacking into his own computer? This is where things become unclear.

There's also GPS and iPhone tracking, which has already been used to bust one cheating spouse.

Typically, reading someone's personal messages and stalking them on the street can amount to an invasion of privacy. These claims usually rest on someone's expectation of solitude in any given situation. For example, following someone on a public street might not amount to an invasion of privacy because the street is by its nature public.

Following someone into a house would probably be considered invasive. After all, most people would probably expect a high level of privacy within their abode.

In order keep yourself out of trouble with the law, it's probably best not to snoop or track your spouse at all. Still have specific questions? FindLaw Answers has a robust family law forum with similar inquiries. Ask away.

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