Even the smoothest of divorces are emotionally complex when children are involved. All of a sudden, the loss of control over where your children are and what they’re doing when they’re with the non-custodial parent can lead to excessive worry and concern.
That worry or fear, combined with the innovation of GPS trackers and other monitoring devices, can make it tempting to track the non-custodial parent when they have custody of the children. This is completely illegal in the state of California.
Is Your Ex Tracking You During Your Parenting Time?
If an ex is tracking you during your parenting time, you should consult with an experienced family lawyer who can help you decide what to do next.
California is a dual-consent state
California is a dual-consent state. This means that both parties must consent before wiretapping, GPS tracking, or other location tracking devices are used to monitor someone’s movements or behaviors. In addition to facing criminal charges, any information or evidence supplied by these devices is considered null and void in a courtroom.
However, there are exceptions to this law. The most common is if your ex has convinced the courts that you are at risk for taking the children outside the jurisdiction without consent. In this case, a judge can order tracking devices on your car, phone, etc., so your ex can keep track of your movements when you have the children.
Again, the ability for an ex to track you during your parenting time would only be legal if it was ordered by the court. Otherwise, s/he is violating your right to privacy and your rights as a parent. If you have found a GPS or other tracking device on your car or phone that was installed for your ex’s use, without your consent, s/he can face civil and criminal charges.
Avoid the need for your ex to track your movements during parenting time
Any time spent in a courtroom is expensive, and it can create ugly, unnecessary emotional entanglement that is detrimental to your child(ren)’s wellbeing. If your ex is so upset or worried that s/he’s threatening to track your movements when you have the children, we recommend taking the following actions.
Meet with a family law mediator
Meeting with a licensed, family law mediator can work wonders for facilitating communication between ex-partners who cannot see eye-to-eye about child custody arrangements, or who are not acting or thinking rationally when it comes to the other partner’s time with the children.
Family law mediators are completely neutral parties. We do not take sides. We simply facilitate communication and negotiations between two parties and let them know what a judge would be most likely to say or decide if the issue is brought to court.
Because you pay by the hour, session, and/or the documentation required for filing – family law mediation continues to be markedly more affordable than hiring a lawyer and going to court. Simply put, mediation often saves couples tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Consult with a family law attorney
If your ex is unwilling to go the mediation route, consult with a family law attorney to explain your situation and determine the next steps.
The goal is always to move forward with the least amount of stress and contention as possible, so the first step may be for your lawyer to write a letter explaining the illegality of your ex’s threat to track you – and that legal steps will be taken if you are, indeed, being tracked without your consent.
If first-step actions are ignored by your ex, we can move forward with further steps to protect your rights and to support you in building a trusting relationship with your children.
Find evidence of the tracking device(s) and take action
Next, it’s time to consult with device tracking professionals who can scan your vehicles, phones, computer, etc. to locate and identify actual tracking devices. This is the evidence you would need to pursue action from the courts.
Just as a judge hates to be lied to about hidden assets, s/he also balks when an individual says they haven’t been tracking their ex – only to have evidence presented to the contrary. There is no point in taking legal action until you have solid proof of tracking devices to follow it up.
We Are Here For You
Do you need professional legal and emotional support as you work through sticky and painful child custody details? Please give me a call, 510-521-9500 (Oakland) or 415-482-7800 (San Rafael), or contact the Law Offices of Gerald Falzone online to schedule a free consultation.