Spouses Reading Spouses Emails: When its allowed and when its illegal

Often during divorce proceedings, a husband or wife will access their spouse’s email accounts and proceed to read and print a slew of emails that bolster the snooping spouse’s divorce case. Evidence of infidelity, financial misconduct and outright perversion are often revealed as a result of these efforts. However, it’s important for the snooping spouse to fully understand and appreciate the legality of accessing and infiltrating these email accounts without their spouse’s permission.

Federal law prohibits any individual from intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining any information from said protected computer (codified in 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C)). What this means is that any protected information on a family computer—information specifically protected by a password to which an individual is not privy—cannot be accessed, read, copied or distributed without authorization from the password holder. Therefore, any documents—or any information whatsoever—in the snooping spouse’s possession, that was password protected, should not be turned over to divorce attorneys.

Attorney Mark Sherman and his staff are well-versed in this emerging area of Connecticut computer crime law and regularly consult with divorce attorneys and litigants on this issue. If you would like further information on this issue, please give Attorney Mark Sherman a call at (203) 358-4700.