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Read Spouse's Email at Own Risk; Risk Divorce and Felony Charges?

While this case is not taking place in Texas, it is intriguing enough for any family law site to cover. The issue of the Internet and its effect on marriages as well as its effect on family law decisions plays out in a current Midwest dispute.

A Michigan man, 33, was not unaware of the secrets that the Internet can reveal about one's life. In his case, the secret he found in his wife's e-mail affected not only him and his marriage but the status of child custody in regards to a child from his wife's previous marriage. What did the then husband (now divorcé) discover that's caused such havoc?

According to reports, the suspicious husband got into his then wife's e-mail account. After gaining access to her e-mails, he discovered that his wife was cheating on him with her ex, the second of two ex-husbands. That man had a history of violence, and the snooping husband knew that. In order to protect his wife's child from another marriage, the husband says he contacted the child's father about the affair.

Now, therefore, not only did husband and wife divorce, but the woman's first ex-husband has requested that he be granted custody of the child to keep him away from the allegedly violent man with whom the mother is having an affair. The online spying has gone beyond the realm of family law.

Sources report that the man who looked at his wife's e-mail did so criminally. He is being called a "hacker" and is charged based on a law normally connected to identity theft-related crimes. But the defendant argues that the computer he used to reveal his wife's affair was not his wife's private property, and he knew exactly where she kept the passwords needed to log on to her accounts.

If it is a felony crime to read a spouse's or partner's e-mails without their knowledge, then there is likely a future of thousands of cases similar to this so-called identity theft case. With e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other such Internet tools being a part of an average person's everyday life, this Michigan man can't be alone in his relationship-safeguarding strategy that his ex is trying to classify as a crime.

What do you think? Should this man be convicted of identity theft for logging into his wife's e-mail? Is using the internet to check on a loved one's good or bad behavior merely a questionable habit, or is it a crime?

Source

USA Today: "Man charged with felony for reading his wife's e-mail to track an affair," Doug Stanglin, 27 Dec. 2010

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