Last Updated On: January 18, 2023

Can I Open My Spouse’s Mail During Divorce in New York?

Going through a divorce can be a highly-charged and emotional situation. Especially in fault or contested divorces, the communication between spouses has likely deteriorated and efforts toward cooperation can already be tenuous.

Getting the help of an experienced New York City divorce attorney can be beneficial, especially if you are in a contentious divorce. Ryan Besinque, a top-rated Manhattan divorce attorney, has represented the rights of many individuals in both contested and uncontested divorce cases in New York. The Law Offices of Ryan Besinque is a Manhattan firm dedicated to providing quality legal counsel and representation in matters of divorce and family law. Call us today at (929) 251-4477 to schedule a free consultation.

Opening your Spouse’s Mail During a New York Divorce

When you are going through a difficult divorce, it’s understandable to want to gain an edge especially if you feel like you have been taken advantage of by your spouse. Perhaps you have an inkling or a suspicion that your spouse has been doing something unsavory. The temptation to investigate your spouse’s mail or email to look for evidence of such wrongdoing can be strong and you may have a distinct impression that the information you get can be used in your favor during the divorce proceedings.

However, it is important to remember that just as you have legal rights that need to be protected, your spouse is also afforded the same rights under the law. Invasive actions such as tampering with your spouse’s mail or logging into their email account without their knowledge can have serious consequences, legal or otherwise.

Risk of Lawsuits

Opening mail that is not directly or jointly addressed to you is considered punishable by federal law. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1702, opening another person’s mail with the intent to pry into their business is punishable with a fine or up to a five-year prison sentence. Without your spouse’s explicit consent, you should not open communications such as their mail. Charges of Obstruction of Correspondence may be filed against you, depending on how you intercepted and stored the mail.

Gaining unauthorized access to your spouse’s email, or other social media accounts and changing the password to lock them out of their account can also result in criminal charges. You may face felony charges under the Wiretap Act of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or under the New York laws for Unauthorized use of a computer (N.Y. Penal Law § 156.05) or other related cybercrime charges.

Information Discovery and Illegal Evidence

Spouses often intercept their partner’s mail to use as evidence to gain an advantage in divorce proceedings. However, there is already a legal avenue that allows you access to this information. After your divorce claim has been filed with the court, you and your Manhattan divorce attorney can initiate the discovery process. 

Discovery is the pre-trial official process of collecting information pertaining to your case. As part of the litigation process, you can petition the court for access to information that may be helpful to your case. This may be helpful in getting your spouse’s financial information to determine whether you can petition for alimony, learning about any hidden assets they may have that you are entitled to, and obtaining a subpoena for their calls and text logs, if necessary.  

Obtaining the legal documents for you to gain the information you desire may take some time and you might be tempted to take matters into your own hands. Still, even if you do get incriminating information about your spouse through opening their mail, the court may not admit evidence obtained illegally in your divorce case. It is important to seek a qualified attorney’s advice and refrain from doing anything that can jeopardize your case.

Overall Impact on the Tone of the Divorce Case

The first few days and weeks after the decision to get a divorce can be the most crucial to setting the tone of the divorce. Having feelings of resentment towards your spouse and fear about the changes the divorce would bring to your life is understandable. However, trying to get control over this uncertainty by invading your spouse’s privacy can further drive a wedge into your already troubled relationship.

Divorce cases can take a long time to conclude, despite the court’s intervention in a contested divorce. There are also other aspects of divorce, like child custody and visitation, child support, as well as co-parenting any child you might share that would benefit from your and your spouse’s cooperation. While you may be operating in the interest of protecting your and your children’s best interests, it is still beneficial to look toward the bigger picture and avoid any actions that may put the possibility of a better, friendlier outcome at risk. 

Getting the Help of a Top-Rated Manhattan Divorce Attorney

Working with a New York divorce attorney who is knowledgeable about the law and can offer experienced and compassionate advice can make a huge difference in the result of your case. Ryan Besinque, a skilled Manhattan divorce attorney, may be able to walk you through the process of your divorce.  

Our qualified attorneys at the Law Office of Ryan Besinque understand how overwhelming divorce proceedings can be. We provide quality legal services and diligently work toward a resolution that serves our client’s best interests. Contact us today at (929) 251 4477 to speak with an experienced Manhattan divorce attorney and to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

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