Can I Read Through My Ex’s Email During a Divorce?

Can I Read Through My Ex’s Email During a Divorce?

Yes, but only if you go through proper channels. Reading through your ex’s e-mails (or any other electronic account for that matter like Facebook) without their permission or court approval (for example, by guessing their password) is considered a computer crime under Utah law. In the recent case of State v. Beagles, a Utah court sentenced a divorcing husband to jail for accessing his wife’s online accounts after guessing her password.  Utah law does not allow spouses to use evidence obtained through a computer crime in court.

To access your partner’s account you generally must have their consent or go through court process. For example, during a marriage it is not uncommon for spouses to tell each other their passwords to online accounts and give either express or implied consent to access those accounts. If you access your spouse’s account under such circumstances then you have not committed a crime. But after a couple separates in anticipation of divorce any prior consent is generally considered revoked. Even if you happen to know or can guess your ex’s password you should not access their accounts unless they give you explicit permission to do so in writing.

All that being said, there are ways to legally gain access to your ex’s e-mail and social media accounts. During a lawsuit you may request discovery from the other side meaning they have to turn over copies of documents, e-mails,  social media postings, etc. that are relevant to the case. If you obtain messages as part of the court process then it is not illegal and you may be able to use it in court.  You may also be able to obtain access to such accounts by issuing a subpoena to the company responsible for maintaining those records. Again, as long as you are requesting access to messages through the court process versus secretly trying to break into someone’s account you should stay out of trouble. (Note: there are some exceptions to the kinds of records you can request. For example, you cannot request e-mails between the other party and their lawyer. You cannot request messages that are irrelevant to the case.).

Electronic discovery can be a complicated area of the law. It is vital to have a smart, experienced attorney on your side to get you the information you need to win. It is also vital to have an experienced attorney making sure the other side is not snooping through your private accounts and hold them accountable if they try to do so. Give the team at Wiser and Wiser Family Law a call today at 855-254-2600.




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