We often blog here about how to find assets using public records and interviews. Sometimes we get more unorthodox requests from clients to help them find assets or just plain figure out the facts. For instance, a recent story that came out about the Judd sisters put GPS tracking devices on our mind.
According to recent media reports, in November, Ashley Judd filed a police report in which she accused her sister, Wynonna, of placing a GPS tracker on her car. It is unclear why Wynonna would have placed the tracker on Ashley’s car, but it is clear that, if she did, Wynonna has waded into some murky and potentially criminal territory.
Although GPS tracking devices can provide you with a great deal of information that might be helpful in your divorce proceedings, you have to be very careful. The law varies by state, but in Tennessee, where Wynonna was tracking Ashley, Wynonna could be punished by up to 30 days in jail.
In some states, putting a tracking device on a car is legal if the person placing it shares ownership of the car. In others, consent is required of all owners before placing the tracking device on the car. But even if you’re able to evade criminal charges, you might still run up against a civil suit for invasion of privacy.
Neither criminal charges nor expensive invasion of privacy suits sound particularly appealing to us. The legality of using GPS trackers is ever-changing—some states have addressed it while others haven’t. Unless you’re certain after thorough research that you won’t face criminal or civil liability for placing a tracker on your spouse’s car, you might be better off obtaining the information through other means, including strategic interviews, public records searches and the discovery process.