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Spying and Divorce in Michigan: What You Should Know

by | Aug 3, 2021 | Uncategorized |

Whether you are in the early stages of planning for a divorce in Michigan or you have already taken steps toward getting divorced, you probably have many different questions about what you can and cannot do under Michigan law. One question we often hear from parties who are planning to file for divorce is, “Can I spy on my spouse?” While the term ‘spying’ might refer to a wide variety of actions or behaviors, most spouses generally want to know if they can eavesdrop on their spouses’ phone calls, if they can record conversations with a spouse, and if they can read a spouse’s email or texts. In short, spying in this sense may be permitted only under Michigan law in certain scenarios, but it is important to understand the types of circumstances in which you can and cannot obtain information about your spouse in these ways mentioned above.

If you have questions, you should seek advice from a Michigan divorce lawyer as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is some information to help you understand when you can and cannot “spy” on your spouse during the divorce process.

Can I Read My Spouse’s Email?

Some spouses in Michigan share an email account, but for most people, this is not the case. To be sure, most spouses in Michigan have their own individual email accounts. Although spouses may know one another’s passwords, it is critical to know that it may be unlawful for you to read your spouse’s email without permission—even if you have the password. Indeed, this kind of “spying” is likely unlawful under both federal and Michigan state law. Federal law makes it unlawful to intercept, or to attempt to intercept, “any wire, oral, or electronic communication.” Similarly, Michigan law (MCL 752.795) makes it unlawful to access a person’s computer without authorization or to install any device in order to eavesdrop on a person’s electronic communications (such as a keystroke logger). These laws also make it unlawful to read your spouse’s text messages without permission or to access any other online accounts held by your spouse. 

Can I Listen to My Spouse’s Phone Calls?

The federal law cited above makes it unlawful to intercept your spouse’s phone calls by installing any kind of listening device or otherwise. Similarly, there is a Michigan law (MCL 750.539a) that makes it unlawful to eavesdrop on a person in this manner without their authorization.

Can I Record Phone Calls With My Spouse?

While the other forms of “spying” mentioned above are likely unlawful under both federal and state law, you are likely allowed to record conversations you have with your spouse even if your spouse does not give permission. Since Michigan is a one-party consent state according to its wiretapping law, only one party to a conversation must give consent in order for the communication to be recorded.

Contact Our Experienced Michigan Divorce Attorneys

Do you have questions or concerns about “spying” prior to or during your divorce case? An experienced Michigan divorce attorney at our firm can speak with you today. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to learn more about how we can assist you.