What to Do if Your Spouse is Spying on You

Written by Jonathan Breeden

July 5, 2022

Separation, divorce, and child custody issues can bring out the worst in people. A spouse spying on you is one of these offensive behaviors. It might also be illegal, resulting in criminal charges against the spying spouse.

However, there are legal ways for spouses to use the information they find to their advantage in a divorce settlement or child custody arrangement.

Learn why spouses spy, discover if your spouse is spying on you, and what measures you can take to protect yourself, your privacy, and your children in a divorce.

Why Spouses Spy

Most spouses spy on their ex hoping that they can dig up damaging proof of an affair, secret bank accounts, or even a second family. They aim to use incriminating evidence to their advantage for a few reasons.

To Avoid Paying Alimony

A higher-earning spouse who fears paying alimony might try to find out if their spouse is unfaithful. A family court judge has the discretion to use marital infidelity as a reason to deny spousal support.

On the other side, lower-paying spouses spy on the higher earner to seek additional spousal support.

To Gain More Marital Property or Assets

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state when dividing marital assets and debts. It is not a 50/50 community property state, but the state considers several factors:

  • Each spouse’s financial resources and income
  • Each spouse’s needs
  • Health and age of each spouse
  • Whether one spouse failed to act prudently with marital assets

Adultery that involves one spouse spending thousands of dollars on a secret lover would not be advantageous in a property settlement.

Finding Proof of Infidelity

A spying spouse looks for proof of an affair and/or misuse of marital assets, including:

  • Hotel receipts or increased reward points
  • Credit card receipts for expensive gifts that the spouse never received
  • Missing cash or jewelry
  • Photos or videos of the spouse with their alleged lover
  • Audio recordings or voice mails
  • Screenshots of text messages
  • Cards or letters
  • Printed email exchanges

North Carolina still has adultery laws, but they haven’t been enforced in over a century. If your spouse is seeking proof of adultery in the hopes of your arrest, they will likely be disappointed.

To Modify a Custody Arrangement

Spouses unhappy with the current child custody arrangement look for reasons to file for a modification. They might look for signs of drug use, excessive drinking, illegal activity, or multiple lovers during their ex’s parenting time.

Spying is Unethical & Often Illegal

State and federal laws protect you from electronic surveillance. There are stalking and harassment laws to prevent someone from physically or electronically spying on you.

Spouses who try to dig up dirt on their exes could be facing legal trouble. The illegally obtained information is not admissible. Even if they got incriminating information through legal methods, an attorney could argue that it is irrelevant to your case.

How to Tell if Someone is Spying on You

Here are a few warning signs of potential spying on your phone and electronic devices.

Reading Your Email & Checking Your Internet History

Your spouse might be breaking into your electronic mailbox. One sign of this behavior is that your email appears in a different color. Some web browsers send automated security notices when someone accesses your account from another server.

There are also keylogger (sometimes called a keystroke logger) apps that record what you type on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Check your anti-virus or anti-malware software. Run a scan to determine if someone recently accessed your browser or internet history.

Spying on You Via Your Cell Phone

Both Apple and Android phones offer tracking devices that an unscrupulous spouse can access. There are spy apps that someone can install on your phone without knowledge and physical access.

Five Signs of Cell Phone Spyware

Spyware tells your spouse about your phone use, but it also leaves incriminating evidence:

  • Unexplained increase in data usage
  • Higher battery drain that requires frequent recharging
  • The phone feels hot or warm from increased use
  • Unusual screen activity when your phone is in standby mode
  • Unexplained screenshots and recordings

Following You Personally or with a Private Investigator

You might run into your spouse on your daily routine “by accident.” Or you hear from friends and associates that your spouse asks them about where you go and who you spend time with. Spying spouses might also hire private investigators.

Installing Listening Devices on Your Landline

If you still have a landline phone, your spouse might wiretap and listen to your conversations. Wiretapped phones sometimes make a high-pitched tone, static, or popping sound.

How to Protect Yourself from a Spying Spouse

Once you feel confident your ex is spying on you, it’s time to take appropriate measures.

Safeguard Your Phone & Digital Devices

Try these simple security measures to put an end to spousal spying.

  • Change your passwords on apps, email, web browsers, bank accounts, and social media. Follow these suggestions for creating a secure password.
  • Update your phone to the latest operating system
  • Back up your phone and then reset to factory settings.
  • Use biometric security whenever possible, such as Face ID or fingerprint.
  • Ask the phone company to check your landline or have it disconnected and removed.

Talk to Your Spouse

Another step to stopping a spying spouse is to ask them about it. Select a public, neutral place where you can talk. If you’d rather not be face-to-face, call or video conference. Tell your spouse that you have proof of their spying – and then listen to what they have to say.

Even if their intentions weren’t harmful, they don’t have a right to invade your privacy. Be civil but firm when you ask them to stop spying.

Talk to a Divorce Attorney

A North Carolina divorce lawyer helps you understand your options against a spying spouse.

North Carolina has laws against stalking and cyberstalking. There are also federal laws about illegal wiretapping and electronic surveillance that could result in criminal charges.

It might be appropriate to seek an injunction against your ex, such as a restraining order, depending on your situation.

There are also civil actions that might be available to you. You could seek damages via a personal injury lawsuit because your ex invaded your privacy by intrusion.

Call Breeden Law Office

Spying spouse? Our North Carolina divorce lawyers offer hope and help using our decades of legal knowledge. Call the Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 for a consultation or use our online contact form.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden