New Jersey Family Law Firm: Can I Put a GPS on My Wife’s Car?

Do you suspect that your husband or wife is cheating on you? Are they often gone when you call, at times when you expect them to be home? Do their excuses just not add up? Do you want to either get the peace of mind that they are not having an affair, or get the ammo you need in a divorce proceeding? There is one simple way to track where they go—put a GPS (Global Positioning Systems) device on their car. But is this legal? If you get the proof you need, can you use it in court? This blog provides an overview of the legal issues involved when you want to put a tracking device on your spouse’s car.

The Use of a GPS Device

There is no law that prohibits you from putting a GPS device on a family car. The important issue is not whether you can put the device on a car, but whether any information you gather will be admissible in a court of law. There may be little benefit to equipping a car with a tracking device if you cannot enter information obtained into evidence in a divorce proceeding.

Customarily, the concern under the law, with respect to the placement of a GPS or tracking device, is whether it is used to eavesdrop or to intercept the communication of a third party or whether it is used to gather information from a place and space in which your spouse has a reasonable expectation of privacy. If the device placed on a car does not have the capability to record or listen in to a conversation, any information obtained from it will often be admissible. It has also been successfully argued that a GPS device placed on a vehicle did not invade the driver’s privacy, as it tracked the location of the vehicle, not the location of the person. The vehicle may have been parked for hours while the driver left in another vehicle or through another mode of transportation.

Problems can arise, however, if the vehicle is not yours or is not jointly owned. If you have no ownership in the vehicle at all, then placing a GPS device on it can be a form of trespass or harassment, which is a violation of the law. As a general rule, any information obtained through violation of the law or through illegal means is inadmissible in court.

If you are separated from your spouse and under a no-contact or protective order, the use of a GPS device to track your spouse’s movements can be considered stalking, and you will likely be in violation of the court order.

Like many other issues in family law, the facts and circumstances differ from case to case. That is why seeking counsel is so important.

Contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates

At Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to divorce and family law clients in New Jersey. To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.