Admissibility Of GPS Evidence In Divorce Cases

GPS evidence divorceBy Jennifer de Lyon Stralka

Mens Divorce Attorney, Cordell and Cordell

To track or not to track? That is the question.

As divorce rates continue to skyrocket across the country, so has the use of electronic evidence in proving a spouse’s infidelity.

Such evidence gleaned from e-mails, cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter have proved both compelling and devastating in divorce cases.

Most recently, additional forms of evidence have come to the forefront, including information on a partner’s whereabouts obtained from global positioning system (“GPS”) tracking devices, including Apple’s new iPhone 4S “Find My Friends” app.

While it is certainly no secret that electronic and other technologically advanced media such as GPS tracking devices are becoming an increasingly popular tool in ascertaining a suspected criminal’s whereabouts, the question remains as to its admissibility in family law proceedings.

Unfortunately, most courts remain silent on this issue, as the majority of GPS-related cases have apparently settled before the courts have had the chance of making evidentiary determinations in those matters.

Moreover, with the advent of new and increasingly advanced technology comes the need for the law to catch up and evolve, which often takes a considerable amount of judicial time and effort.

Notwithstanding, a recent New Jersey appellate court case sheds some light as to how courts moving forward may consider GPS tracking device related evidence in family law proceedings.

The case in question, Villanova v. Innovative Investigations, Inc., No. A-0654-10T2 (N.J. Super. 2011), involves a wife who placed a GPS tracking device in her husband’s car given suspicions that he was cheating.  When his wife confronted him with the evidence, the husband in turn sued the agency and its principle that the wife hired to assist her in investigating his alleged infidelities.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated his right to privacy due to their suggestion that Plaintiff’s wife, unbeknownst to Plaintiff, purchased and install a GPS tracking device in the glove compartment of one of the family vehicles normally driven by Plaintiff. The court however, found Plaintiff’s arguments unpersuasive.

In its ruling, the court held that “the placement of a GPS device in Plaintiff’s vehicle, without his knowledge, but in the absence of evidence that he drove the vehicle into a private or secluded location that was out of public view and in which he had a legitimate expectation of privacy, does not constitute a tort invasion of privacy.”

In so holding, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision in finding in favor of Defendants.

While the Villanova case affords both lawmakers and legal practitioners alike a glimpse at how GPS evidence may be considered in a judicial setting, jurisdictions across the country may vary given the governing state constitutional, statutory and regulatory authority as well as the underlying facts of each case.

For instance, an additional New Jersey case suggests that the use of GPS tracking devices may open one up to criminal violations such as stalking, especially in cases involving orders of protection. See L.A.V.H. v. R.J.V.H., No. A-6292-09T4 (N.J. Super. 2011).

Regardless of the circumstances, it is important to consider that depending upon the jurisdiction you may face certain legal ramifications in the event that you choose to use GPS tracking devices on an alleged cheating partner without first speaking to a mens divorce attorney.

This is a risk that is certainly not worth taking, especially in light of the infancy of GPS evidence being considered in family law cases across the country.

Contact the divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell for more information on admissible GPS evidence in your jurisdiction.

 

St. Louis divorce lawyerTo arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Jennifer de Lyon Stralka, an associate attorney in the St. Louis office, contact Cordell & Cordell Law Firm.

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4 comments on “Admissibility Of GPS Evidence In Divorce Cases

    GPS tracking
    First, let me preface my answer by stating that I am only licensed to practice in Missouri, Illinois and New Jersey. Since I am not aware of the jurisdiction governing your case, I can only offer you information that is general in nature. You should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction immediately to further discuss your options.

    To answer your question, it really depends upon the laws of your jurisdiction as well as the underlying factual circumstances. For instance, in Missouri, your ex-spouse’s actions, which appear to be for the purposes of harassment, could conceivably violate a local county court rule prohibiting a party in a child custody matter from harassing, stalking, abusing or disturbing the peace of the other party and/or the parties’ minor children. If you are local to this jurisdiction, an attorney handling your case could bring this to the court’s attention in order to stop her from conducting any further surveillance. However, your ability to prevent your ex from tracking your child’s whereabouts while under your supervision certainly depends upon the underlying statutory and regulatory authority in your jurisdiction. Note that in some states, GPS tracking may give rise to both civil and/or criminal penalties, depending upon the nature of the case. Again, since I do not know your specific jurisdiction, I can only inform you generally.

    To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Jennifer de Lyon Stralka, an associate attorney in the St. Louis office, contact Cordell & Cordell Law Firm.

    gpsw
    WHAT ABOUT WHEN A PARENT TRACKS YOUR CHILD ON GPS ON “your” VISITATION TIME? Sample” child carries a phone supplied by mom, and dad, however mom’s provided cell phone is possible gps tracked..so that when child is with Dad..on his visitation…the whereabouts of the child are know..is there no privacy for the visiting parent? Can we request in court that the gps device be taken off during the visitation? Many times the child will go somewhere with dad and then a phone call from mom will state..No! that’s not where you guys were!

    gpsw
    WHAT ABOUT WHEN A PARENT TRACKS YOUR CHILD ON GPS ON “your” VISITATION TIME? Sample” child carries a phone supplied by mom, and dad, however mom’s provided cell phone is possible gps tracked..so that when child is with Dad..on his visitation…the whereabouts of the child are know..is there no privacy for the visiting parent? Can we request in court that the gps device be taken off during the visitation? Many times the child will go somewhere with dad and then a phone call from mom will state..No! that’s not where you guys were!

    Court is the last resort.who wants a third party that gives minimal standards to the happiness of a child and parents.court doesnt care aboit feeling or love or concern.court is for people that are negligent or really mentally and morally unfair or dangerous. Feelings arent legal or play not impact of well being.your relationahip never ends even after a court order. People think that. So cold harsh walls to other parent will just make u live miserably until the kid is 18. Ya still have to show your kid how to get along and respect for other parent…a role model so when they grow up they know how to not be like what your tryingto do.the kid feels every tentionandemotion whether u show it or not.does it matter if she just n÷ds to k ow where her kid is or is it your ego that is doing this. Thats is the truth. I think it is alittle over the top if the other parent is monitoring everystep u take when having visition with the child ONLY if they so not have a reason to. May i ask why that parent is so paranoid? Do you maybe create that atmosphere by relatiation by not communicating with the other parent and maybe deliberately not share details on childs whereabouts or surroundings to punish them? Think about it.thats the only thing im hearing here. Even if it seems so rediculous why do u care and limit info to other parent? If thats whats occuring. We all have to rise above our egos and if u communicated civily and with respect on other parents concerns even if its stupid to you will you find this this situation would disolve and you and her would be at peace.she will call less and be a t easze.who makes the other parent god to withholds any info if the other patent wants to know. Really! The other parent gets to know and you should offer info to eliminate that behavior.unless u like the drama.food for thought.

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