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Can You Legally Track Your Spouse with a GPS Device?

Infidelity is one of the most common causes of divorce in the United States. If you are thinking of a divorce or going through one, suspicions about your spouse’s activities may be one of your reasons for wanting a separation. Those late nights at work or out-of-town meetings may not have bothered you before, but now you’re having doubts that your spouse really is where he or she claims to be.

Some people hire private investigators to track their spouses. Others use the more inexpensive option of a GPS tracking device placed on their spouse’s car. But before you even think of doing this, it helps to know when it’s legal to do or not, otherwise, you might end up facing criminal charges, not to mention change what could’ve been a favorable outcome to your divorce.

GPS Devices Explained

In this context, GPS devices refer to mechanical or electronic devices that can produce a signal or frequency to track or record the device’s location. Your phone, for example, has a setting that that allows it to automatically produce signals to track your movement, which you can look at on a program like Google Maps. Many GPS devices can be purchased can be placed at your nearest Best Buy—some come with proprietary apps for real-time tracking.

In Texas, there are specific situations when using a GPS device to monitor your spouse is legal and illegal. Keep reading to learn what they are.

Legal vs. Illegal GPS Tracking

There are two factors that determine whether using a GPS device to track your spouse’s movements while driving is legal or not:

  1. Consent
  2. Whether the car is jointly owned or not

Under Texas law, you can legally place a tracking device on someone else’s car provided that person gave you his or her consent. Depending on the specifics of the situation, there could be some technicalities in how the law views the use of GPS devices.

For example, if the tracked spouse owns or even leases the car under his or her name, the non-owner spouse cannot legally place a tracking device on it. If this happen, the spouse who placed the tracking device could face criminal charges for stalking. In addition, any evidence obtained using the GPS device will be inadmissible in family law court.

But because Texas is a community property state, if your spouse purchased the vehicle after you were married, this becomes property owned jointly by both spouses. In this case, one spouse may legally install GPS tracking device without the other spouse’s consent.

BUT, this depends on the specifics of your case. Even if the vehicle was registered under both your names, if it is established that only one spouse ever drives the car, the Court may see that the spouse who placed a GPS device on the car was acting in bad faith. As such, this act may be considered illegal.

In any case, this matter clearly needs the advice of a skilled family law attorney. If you, or a loved one, are going through a divorce and need assistance on the specifics of your case, talk to the family law experts of Lyttle Law Firm. Call us today at 512.215.5225 to schedule a consultation.

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