Earlier this month, a federal appeals court issued a decision in a lawsuit stemming out of a heated divorce battle. In the May 2011, Paula Epstein filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the Cook County Circuit Court. Although Illinois is a no-fault state now, a litigant typically needed to prove grounds such as adultery or abandonment. Ms. Epstein alleged that her husband, Barry, had been unfaithful. Due to these suspicions, Ms. Epstein set up an autorforward which sent all of her husband's incoming emails to Paula's account. These emails were disclosed during the discovery phase of the litigation, which stemmed federal lawsuit.
The Federal Wiretap Act states that anyone that "...intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication..." is in violation of the Act. A email is considered an electronic communication. Barry Epstein then filed suit in federal court, seeking damages from Paula and her attorney based on the alleged interception and disclosure of the emails. Paula and her attorney filed motions to dismiss which were ultimately granted by the trial court. On appeal, the appellate court essentially held that the claim was sufficiently plead, but there was not yet enough evidence to know if the claim would ultimately succeed. However, both parties received a stern warning from the judge.
These days just about all communication takes place electonically, resulting in a potential minefield of liability under the wiretap act. So even if you believe your spouse may be cheating on you, it is important to be cognizant of the laws regarding the disclosure and interception of electronic communication. When in doubt, consult an attorney to make sure you steer clear of any potential liability.
For more on the Epstein case in particular, see http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chicagoinc/ct-posner-cheating-husband-1221-chicago-inc-20161220-story.html. If you have questions or concerns about divorce and wiretapping, call or email the Nally Law Grroup today.