How to use my wife’s marital misconduct against her in court

Divorce Attorney Angela FoyQuestion:

I am going through a divorce. She took all the money and savings before she filed for divorce and after I confronted her about an affair she is having. Now I have found out she has been hacking into my computer and cell phone records. Can I use any of this marital misconduct against her in court? Will this help me?



I strongly encourage you to talk to your lawyer, and if you are not currently represented, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney right away to discuss your case.  It depends on all of the facts of your case and the previous orders that have been issued, but this information could potentially be very beneficial to you in determining the final outcome of your case.  I do not practice in your jurisdiction, so I can only respond in generalities based on my experience.

The final divorce decree, whether it is by agreement or by court order, will divide all of your assets and debts that accrued during the marriage.  It may also make orders regarding separate property if there is any.  The general standard is that the final property division should be approximately equal.

The court can deviate from an equal property division for many reasons, but they usually have to do with a parties’ earning capacity, what is best for the children, or other economic agreements such as a pre-nuptial agreement.  At least in some jurisdictions, a court cannot deviate from an equal division because of one party’s misconduct.

If she took all of the money and savings prior to the divorce and it has not been accounted for or returned, you can likely assign her that amount in her column of assets.  As a result, you will get awarded other assets to balance the division, or she may have to pay you an equalization payment.

Regarding her actions hacking into your computer and cell phone records, there is the possibility that this may have violated some temporary orders in your case.  If the court has already allocated property on a temporary basis, this invasion may be a violation of that order. Another concern of mine is what she was looking for and what she found.  If she has information that she otherwise would not have, this could change negotiations dramatically.

You do not mention if you have minor children.  If you do, her actions may also have an impact on the determination of the custody and placement arrangements because the court considers how well parents work together and if they are supportive of each other.

The possible impacts of this information depends on its application in your case and the specific rules in your jurisdiction.  I do not practice in Pennsylvania, so I cannot inform you as to the state’s specific laws.  If you have further questions, you should discuss your case with a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction.  Cordell & Cordell has divorce attorneys that are licensed and located in Pennsylvania, and they would be happy to discuss your case with you.


Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. 

 Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.

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