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It is very tempting when you have your ex’s email password or access to texts or voicemails to take a peek, but that is a bad idea.  Unless you can prove that your ex consented to your access, the information you gain from spying can’t be used in court and discovery of your spying may lead to a lawsuit and a judgment for damages against you or even time in prison.

I do not believe that your ex having given you their password when you were together and not changing it after you separated will be considered to be consent.

By telling your attorney about this ill-gotten information, you put that attorney in an ethical dilemma as well as an attorney may not present evidence to the court that it is known to be illegally obtained and such evidence is not admissible in court anyway, if the attorney were to try.

Before you spy, consider the practical matter of whether you really what to see all that you might see. Many years ago, I represented a woman who thought her husband might be having an affair. After he abruptly canceled their plans to go to an Art Gallery opening, she hacked his e-mail and found a message from an address that was unknown to her that said in effect “forget her, we can go to the gallery opening together and then come back to my apartment and sex the afternoon away.” I wonder if that made filing for divorce any easier.

There are different methods to discover information once a divorce has been filed, both from the other party and from third parties and entities. The information has to be relevant to be “discoverable” and the person or entity from whom the information was sought may seek an order from the court prohibiting disclosure of the information entirely or limiting what is disclosed and with whom it may be shared.

I recently had a case where the wife was convinced that her husband was hiding money by transferring it to his brother or otherwise squandering funds, potentially based on e-mails she read illegally. Her attorney went on a fishing expedition and sought all of the brother’s bank records. I represented the brother and we were able to get a court order limiting what she could see to deposits to the brother’s account from the husband. Her snooping cost her thousands in fees and netted nothing. I wonder if it was worth the risk.