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Spying on Your Spouse in a California Divorce

SpyingSpying on your spouse? Angry divorce proceedings often lead individuals to seek proof of wrongdoing. Sometimes the quest for this proof takes the form of spying in order to ascertain whether or not a spouse is cheating, to discover a secret cache hidden away somewhere, or to catch the unwitting spouse in the midst of other activities that might persuade a judge of massive personality flaws that might otherwise go unnoticed. While the temptation to hire a private eye or to actually perform your own sleuthing may be real, such actions are at best misguided, and at worst, illegal. Seeking local legal representation might be a wise choice.

Spying for Proof of Extramarital Affairs

Let us say that you have pictures or other irrefutable proof that your spouse has engaged in extramarital activities that are unseemly. Having this proof in hand will not help you in the divorce settlement. Why? California is a no-fault state, meaning punishments cannot be handed down from the bench for immoral behavior.  Property accumulated during the course of the marriage will be divided in compliance with California’s community property laws, regardless of tawdry behavior by your spouse. The only exception is when domestic violence is a factor in the divorce.


Some individuals may be tempted to use false pretenses in order to get the scoop on a spouse’s financial secrets. This is called pre-texting and can land amateur and professional detectives alike in prison or with hefty fines. When considering whether or not to try to dupe a financial institution into revealing information about your spouse, opt out.

Even pretending to be someone else as you talk to a phone company in order to get access to telephone records is illegal in California, punishable by jail time and fines. The moral is do not impersonate someone else in order to get the dirt on your spouse.

One Exception: Voicemail

Although secretly recording a phone conversation in order to catch your spouse at his or her worst will produce evidence that is inadmissible in Family court (Code Section 2022) and eavesdropping might be considered a violation of Penal Code (Sections 631 & 632), some phone evidence could be admissible in family court.

Precedent involves a case in which a woman testified that she never yelled or used profanity around her children. She also claimed that she did nothing to alienate her children from their father. The court allowed voicemail testimony indicating the exact opposite, collected when the woman’s son was leaving a message for his father and the woman was using threatening and vulgar language in the background.

Getting Through Your Divorce with Integrity

The Santa Rosa divorce attorneys at Beck Law P.C., understand that emotions may run high as you proceed through the divorce process. Our experienced and very ethical team will represent your interests with vigor, staying within the boundaries of the law as we aggressively pursue a fair settlement. Contact us in Santa Rosa today to arrange for a confidential consultation.

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