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Is My Partner Spying on me?!

divorce surveillance

You no longer need work for MI6 to have state of the art recording devices at your disposal. It is part of everyday life that we are being monitored, just look up at the next building you walk past and see how many cameras are looking at you!

So, we are used to being watched without perhaps realising the true extent but the same can apply at home whether on CCTV and so on. But the smart phone is now the default for most people going down this covert road of spying on their partner. If this is not enough, people will find much more sophisticated devices such as dash-cams on cars, trackers, spyware, motion activated sensors and even cuddly toys! Be warned.

It was reported in The Independent on 20 July 2021 by the Women’s Correspondent, Maya Oppenheim, who prepared an exclusive on this worrying issue and her article can be seen here.

As reported, I would estimate that in 20% of cases we see there is some form of covert recording or monitoring going on. Over the last 10 years, this has perhaps increase by 60%. Why is this?

I suppose 20+ years ago, the self-help method was the VHS camcorder. From 2009 smart phones for the first time came with the ability to record video and it has snowballed from there. You’ll recall that many people didn’t really use passcodes back then and those having affairs were often caught out by a text message. Nowadays, most phones come with layer of security, including face recognition. So, we are seeing more and more sophisticated methods to trace, monitor and record being used. One example I heard of was a recording device in a cereal box on the kitchen shelf!

Without a doubt the end of a relationship is a very difficult time for all concerned. That however does not excuse covert recordings or does it? I have seen two main types of cases where a person feels the need to record their partner.

The first is to ‘prove’ an affair. If a relationship is in difficulties, then trust (that perhaps bonded the couple together in the first place) starts to erode. Sometimes this happens over a long period of time; and when trust breaks down, suspicion can set in.

With this, I have seen a growing trend of people wanting to have hard evidence of the affair. This can be by way of secret recordings or even going to the step of employing a private investigator to do this for them.

Commonly, I find it is men who tend to do this in the main. The reasons for this could be many but it often revolves around the need to have this ‘knowledge’, the need to be the ‘innocent’ party and then, hand in hand, comes the need to ‘blame’ their partner. The ‘victim’ can become the ‘persecutor’.

Of course, there are many cases where there is simply no affair but instead there is an unhealthy need to know the movements of the other partner 24/7. This is obviously very controlling, intrusive and can amount to harassment. An injunction can be obtained to prevent someone from doing this.

For the couple the outcome is always negative. If trust was at a low point it will be non-existent when all of this comes to light; and if you look for problems you will always find something. But this can and will negatively impact on the ability of the couple to reach a financial agreement and the arrangements for their children. Everything becomes more difficult; the legal costs will increase because tensions are high; and everyone loses.

A good family lawyer will always point this out. The existence of an ‘affair’ does not make any difference to the outcome of the case, nor is there any real tactical advantage. I tell my clients not to record their partners (and that evidence is more than likely inadmissible anyway).

Of course, people might be wanting to seek the ‘truth’ but in this legal arena, “justice comes before truth” [as said by a former Lord Chancellor, Viscount Kilmuir, in 1960]. A party may feel that they have been ‘wronged’ but that does not mean they are automatically a victim of an injustice. A judge must be careful and impartial; and to ensure there is a fair hearing. In a divorce, the outcome will be the end of the marriage; in a financial case it will be looking at the assets/income and achieve an equitable distribution; and in respect of the children, it is always with their best interest in mind, who are of paramount importance. Evidence (covert or otherwise) of an affair has no place here.

The second type of case is where a partner has no option but to secretly to gather evidence of coercive, controlling, abusive and violent behaviour. The motivation here is for protection whilst putting themselves at grave risk of further harm. This evidence may be used to in the family court to secure an injunction/restraining order or for the police to bring a criminal prosecution. Conversely, over the years I have seen more women than men do this (although men are the victims of abuse and violence too).

Overall, I suspect all I see is the tip of the iceberg. Many, many cases will do on undetected (sometimes over many years) and unfortunately you need to be on your guard. Everyone’s situation is different but what we should always be looking for is to avoid conflict and look for a resolution.

Since being published, here are some of the links to The Independent’s article: – One in five spouses using spy gear to secretly watch their partner prior to divorce – One in 5 people going through divorce ‘uses surveillance equipment to spy on spouse’ – More men are covertly using surveillance equipment to spy on their spouse during divorce proceedings – One in 5 people going through divorce ‘uses surveillance equipment to spy on spouse’ – 1 in 5 spouses uses spy gear on their partner prior to divorce – 1 in 5 spouses uses spy gear on their partner before divorce

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