High-Asset Divorce and Spousal Surveillance

Possibly, one or both spouses involved in a high-asset divorce may have an uneasy feeling someone is watching them. Technology can become a surveillance weapon in a competitive bid for advantage when a high-asset divorce is on the table.

If any part of divorce triggers the desire to make the other party look bad, child custody can be a lightning rod for a parent who wants to catch the other in bad behavior. A parent who engages in unsavory or illegal activities may cause a judge to think twice before granting equal or shared custody.

How does child custody work in Calfornia?

Judges are generally willing to sign off on a reasonable parenting plan drawn up between divorcing spouses. In an adversarial divorce, the partners often fail to agree on custody terms or form a mutually satisfactory parenting plan. In this case, the judge must decide what type of child custody arrangement is best for the child.

California child custody decision

Sometimes, one partner uses surveillance against the other when that person feels they are in a lesser position of power. For example, if one spouse contributes the primary family earnings and controls the majority of the family wealth while the other partner is more involved with raising the children, there may be a perceived imbalance of financial power.

The less financially advantaged partner may worry the other spouse can afford better lawyers to influence a judge's child custody decision. It can be tempting for the person to either hire a surveillance company or do their own sleuthing to uncovered bad behavior by their spouse.

A spouse guilty of stalking a partner may lose custody

Even when one parent uncovers egregious conduct by stalking the other, engaging in surveillance is often a crime. Invasion of privacy is not legal. Also, the plan to put the other parent in a bad light might backfire. 

Where one parent has a legitimate reason to believe the other party may not be fit to have custody, the best way to handle the situation is to ask an attorney if surveillance could prove helpful. The attorney may agree and can legally ask for a spousal surveillance order from the court. If the spouse's behavior proves undesirable, the judge will most likely award full custody to the other parent, with supervised visitation rights for the unfit parent—provided that parent can be trusted not to harm the children. A drug-addicted parent or a spouse with a record of criminal behavior such as spousal abuse or gang affiliation may encounter difficulties when it comes to child custody rights.

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