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Is it Legal to Geo-Track Your Spouse?

   By MandelLawFirm

  •   January 27, 2020
  •    MandelLawFirm
  •   Family Law

New York is one of the few states that still allows couples to file for at-fault divorce, so many residents who suspect adultery on the part of a spouse have questions about how to go about building a case against their partner in court. In most cases, electronic devices often make up the bulk of a person’s evidence when it comes to proving infidelity on the part of a loved one. Certain applications in particular, including those with geo-tracking abilities, have proven to play a key role in discovering infidelity. To find out more about what types of evidence you can use to prove fault during your own New York divorce, please contact a member of our dedicated divorce legal team today.

Fault-Based Divorce in New York

In New York, couples who wish to end their marriages have the option of filing for a fault-based or no-fault divorce. The former, as its name suggests, requires that the parties provide proof that a spouse committed an act that qualifies him or her for a divorce based on a few statutory fault-based grounds, which include:

  • Adultery;
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment rising to such a degree that a plaintiff was physically or mentally in danger;
  • Abandonment for at least one year and can take the form of physical abandonment, as well as constructive abandonment, which occurs when one spouse refuses to engage in intimate acts with his or her partner;
  • The imprisonment of one spouse for three or more consecutive years after the marriage took place; and
  • Divorce after a legal separation agreement followed by living apart for at least a year.

Of these grounds for divorce, adultery is one of the most commonly used by couples looking to end their marriages. However, a court will only grant a divorce based on allegations of adultery or another fault-based ground if there is sufficient evidence to support the accusations.

Evidence from Geo-Tracking Devices

The use of geo-tracking devices has become more and more common in our everyday lives. For this reason, divorcing couples who suspect adultery on the part of a spouse are no longer required to grapple with the ethics of placing a GPS tracking device on a spouse’s vehicle, but instead have come to rely on their personal electronic devices and applications in order to prove infidelity to a judge.

The Uber application, for example, has been used by some to prove that a spouse was traveling to and from meetings with other romantic partners, while others have utilized the built-in real-time GPS tracking features that come with their vehicles and are often connected to the owner’s phone to track a spouse’s movements. The Find my iPhone feature on many phones similarly gives anyone who is logged onto a person’s iCloud account the ability to track that person’s phone to within a few feet of their location. Although designed to help users recover lost phones, the app has proven to be a highly accurate tracking device when it comes to determining someone’s whereabouts. Similarly, the Find my Friends application, which is equipped with a real-time automatic tracking and sharing feature, notifies users of a friend or relative’s location at any given time and not just their last-known location. The tracking data can even be saved for later review.

The Consequences of Geo-Tracking

Couples who have decided to file for a no-fault divorce are usually not encouraged to bring up allegations of a spouse’s infidelity or other misconduct during the divorce process, as proving fault is not necessary to dissolve a marriage and bringing up the other party’s misdeeds tends to sow discord and contention. If, however, a person does choose to file for divorce based on adultery, providing evidence from geo-tracking applications can make all the difference when it comes to lobbying the court for a specific child custody arrangement, property division agreement, or alimony award. However, before a court will make a more advantageous award to a spouse, the wronged party would need to provide evidence of how the infidelity will either directly or indirectly affect a custody, alimony, or property determination.

Contact Our Office by Phone or Online Message

To speak with an experienced divorce attorney about the types of evidence you can utilize when attempting to prove fault in your own divorce, please call The Mandel Law Firm at (646) 770-3868 or send a message to our legal team at info@mandellawfirm.com today.