Most of us rely on our phones for communicating, directions, banking, shopping; the list goes on. As such, we wouldn’t all be comfortable handing our unlocked device to our significant other.
Our phones carry a tremendous amount of information about us, our daily routines and personal habits, and unless specific settings are disabled in specific apps and in the phone itself, they also track, and sometimes record the places we visit, the routes we take to get there, and everything we do or interact with from the time we leave to the time we come back (often with a built-in time and date stamp).
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Toronto’s Experts in Family Law and Divorce
When feeling insecure, threatened, or when going through a period of transition or unrest in a relationship, it can be very tempting to sneak a peek at your partner’s phone to find out what they’ve really been up to. But before you open Pandora’s box, here are some points to consider:
Do you own the device? How about the phone plan? Depending on your jurisdiction, the law often states that if you are the legal owner of the device, then you can do with it as you see fit.
If you live in Ontario, or anywhere in Canada for that matter, it is always best to check with your family lawyer if you’re looking through the phone your partner uses in order to collect evidence, even if you purchased it.
Before you can search the phone, you have to figure out the password. Most modern devices have a default setting that will prevent the phone from being opened altogether if too many wrong answers are given. Sometimes, they will even erase information. So, you could be destroying property and that could mean liability.
We’ve all heard the saying “be careful what you wish for”, and with phones that statement has never been truer! I’ve seen cases where a partner learned that their spouse was gay, that their kids were using drugs, that their best friends had betrayed them, and…that they live with a very boring person!
You cannot unsee messages or photos, so make sure you are prepared to see something that may upset you.
If you do find information, what will you do with it? In most cases, trying to use information you retrieved in this manner will actually weaken your family law case. I’ve seen many people bring forward screenshots of bank statements, conversations, etc. that could not actually be used. If you think you feel bad now, wait until you have proof that you can’t talk about.
Whether you find something or not, you’ve still violated the trust between you and your partner, and the impact from that can range from hurt feelings to the end of the relationship. Some would say that it is better to know than to continuously wonder about the “what ifs”. But if you are wrong about your suspicions, you may not get the chance to repair that trust.
The Moral of This Story
Temptation can be tough to resist, but if you’re in a good relationship with someone you love, it’s far less destructive to openly discuss your curiosity or concerns with your partner and ask them to share the contents of their phone with you.
You might not be allowed access, and that can be for many reasons (work rules, privacy, etc.). It is important to respect boundaries. That is part of any healthy relationship.
And, if you are in an unhappy relationship, sneaking into your partner’s phone is not going to repair the relationship or make it better. Ultimately you have to decide whether the ends will justify the means. If you feel that you need to peek, the issues may be bigger than what’s on the phone.