GPS and Divorce: A Dangerous Combination

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Take it from Danny Lee Hormann: sometimes, using a GPS device to catch a cheating spouse in the act does not pay off. The 46 year old from Minessota affixed a GPS tracking device to his wife’s car, installed spyware on the family computer, and her cellphone in an effort to catch her cheating, culminating in  Hormann following her to a lakeside cabin.


His 51 year old ex-wife, Michele Mathias says, “It was awful.” She says she never cheated in the first place, and was so bothered by Hormann’s spying she and her children combed the garage for hidden cameras, as well as conducting conversations at a whisper on their front lawn in the event he was recording them inside the home. “It wasn’t just invasion of my privacy. It was an invasion of privacy of everyone who ever texted me or anyone who was ever on my computer.”


A judge agreed, convicting Hormann of stalking and sentencing him to 30 days in jail. In his own defense he said, “Whenever I tell people about this, they say, ‘I’d have done the same darn thing.’ The technology just amazes me.”


Mr. Hormann isn’t the only person relying on high-tech software and GPS devices to find out what their spouse is up to. Because these devices are becoming cheaper and easier to use, more and more people are turning to these spy-like gadgets and software and becoming their own private investigator.


Lawyers blame this technology for “turning divorces into an arms race,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Gerry Lane is a marriage counselor based in Atlanta, and he says just about every case of infidelity that comes across his desk shows one spouse spying on the other. “If someone begins to have thoughts that they are being betrayed, they become obsessed with finding out the truth,” he said. “Privacy doesn’t exist in 2012.”


Whether or not you can rely on this use of GPS device to spy on your spouse legally depends on what state you live in. At least five out of 13 US circuit courts ruled that the Federal Wiretap Act prohibits surveillance on a spouse, while at least two have ruled the other way saying that the law does not, in fact, keep you from spying on your spouse.


Divorce lawyers say that the GPS device is not the go-to technique to spy. The most common form of snooping is actually leaving an email account open and free to peruse on the family computer, as well as leaving a smartphone laying around. This provides a golden opportunity to review texts, emails, or phone activity.


If people choose to rely on a GPS tracking device, it’s shockingly cheaper than it was a decade ago. Rather than thousands of dollars, a wannabe spy can spend a mere $179 for the LandAirSea GPS Tracking Key which is magnetized, making it perfect to attach to a spouse’s car.


Before you spy on your spouse, however, just remember that in most cases the evidence you collect might not even be admissible in court. If you collect your information in a way that makes your spouse feel threatened, you could face stalking or other related charges. What are your thoughts on spying on a spouse? We’d love to hear what you think, just leave a comment below.

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Khristen Foss

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