Last week, a federal judge ordered a Tennessee attorney to pay $20,000 in damages to an ex-husband who was harmed by her misconduct during their divorce. In a lengthy ruling issued after a no-holds-barred civil trial that lasted two weeks, the judge determined that the woman violated wiretapping laws with her use of computer spyware during the couple’s divorce and that she altered a prenuptial agreement to her own advantage.
In a general sense, this is a cautionary tale about what can happen when charged emotions get the better of good judgment during the divorce process. Yet it’s an easy trap to fall into and a fairly crowded one as well. In this case, it happened to be an attorney who should have known better and who could conceivably face criminal charges or professional discipline as a result.
Secondly, the story also draws attention to something much more specific — the increasing use of computer and Internet-related evidence in Tennessee divorce cases. Here, it was the wife’s use of spyware, which was also an invasion of her then-husband’s privacy (a tort law cause of action) and in this case, in the judge’s opinion, rose to the level of being an actual crime.
Despite potential consequences like these, more and more people are finding the spyware “shortcut” to gaining an advantage in a divorce too difficult to resist.
The takeaway from both these points is the recognition that the divorce process can cloud anyone’s judgment, including your own. And the best way to avoid falling into that trap is to work with an experienced divorce attorney who help you keep an objective, long view perspective and stay focused on what’s really important.
Source: WATE.com, “Lawmaker’s wife loses divorce ruling over spyware,” July 26, 2012