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Eavesdropping, Spyware, and Wiretapping in Divorce Proceedings

Divorce can be messy, and some couples will stop at nothing to “get back at” one another for wrongs that have been done during a marriage. However, some actions that divorcing spouses undertake go beyond the bounds of the law, including intercepting private communications.

Under federal and Illinois law, wiretapping is illegal. When one spouse eavesdrops on the other’s conversations by tapping into their phone line, the guilty party can face jail time and hefty civil penalties. The spouse whose privacy rights have been violated can seek equitable relief, such as an injunction, declaratory relief, which affirms that what the other party has done is wrong, compensation for any economic damages suffered, and punitive damages which aim to make the responsible party hurt financially.

Privacy laws exist to protect individuals engaged in conversations, including phone calls. However, these laws have failed to keep up with the rapid advances in technology. Laughably, Illinois law still makes reference to telegraph lines. These arcane statutes have been stretched to apply to the rapidly evolving forms of communication that we use now, including emails, text messages, Facebook messages, and other social media.

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