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Divorcing Tennessee couples turn to spyware for evidence

Going through a divorce is typically a very stressful and emotionally-charged experience. Tennessee couples going through a divorce are forced to deal with a variety of raw emotions including hurt, betrayal and anger. They are also forced to deal with complex matters associated with dividing property and child custody and visitation.

Oftentimes divorcing couples feel their lives are spinning out of control. It's not surprising that, in an effort to regain control, husbands and wives are using recording and electronic spyware to access cell phone and email records. Through these means, spouses have been able to determine if their husband or wife was cheating and also uncover potential hidden assets. But is this information admissible in a divorce proceeding? Turns out it all depends on how the information is obtained.

In Tennessee, an individual can record their phone conversation with another person even without that person's knowledge or consent. An individual cannot, however, record conversations they are not a party to and penalties are harsh for those that don't abide by these laws. In fact, felony charges are currently pending against a Tennessee man who illegally taped telephone conversations between his wife and mother-in-law.

The laws around email are blurrier. For example, a wife who knows her husband's email password before a divorce proceeding begins can save the emails and use them as evidence. Emails or electronic information that is obtained using spyware software, however, is typically not admissible in divorce proceedings.

In general, spouses in Tennessee that are facing a divorce should resist the temptation to snoop or use spyware software to obtain information and instead use legal means to summon these records. If a husband or wife does suspect their spouse is recording phone conversations or reading emails, it's advisable to change all passwords. It's also wise to avoid discussing sensitive matters using social media or email.

Source: The Tennessean, "Spyware is latest tool in divorce wars," Brian Haas, Feb. 23, 2012

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