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Is It Legal to Install a GPS Tracking Device on Your Spouse’s Car?

If you are thinking about divorcing, you might become suspicious of your spouse. Suddenly, you start to wonder if they really were where they said—were they working late at the office or were they cheating with a paramour? When these suspicions creep in, divorce might become a real possibility. If this is the case, you may feel inclined to track where your spouse is going. 

Before you place a tracking device on your spouse’s car, you need to understand that, in Texas, using a GPS device to track a spouse is only legal in certain situations. If you’re contemplating taking action, first consider:

  • What a tracking device is; and
  • When it is legal to use a device to track your spouse;

What is a Tracking Device?

In this instance, a tracking device is any device that can emit an electronic signal or frequency to identify, monitor, or record a person’s location. A typical example of this type of device is a GPS or an odometer. Although you cannot determine exact locations from an odometer, you can use the change in mileage to calculate how far a person drove in a given period. So, if your spouse said they were running to the office, which is 5 miles down the road, but they return home with 50 miles on the odometer, you can assume that they were lying.

Situations Where a Tracking Device is Legal

As mentioned before, tracking devices are not always legal. When determining legality, consider owner consent, and what may happen if both spouses jointly own the vehicle.

Under Texas statutes, you can place a tracking device on someone else’s vehicle with that person’s consent. If the tracked spouse is the vehicle’s sole owner or if it is leased only in their name, the spouse who placed the device may face prosecution for stalking, and any evidence they obtain will be inadmissible in family law court.

Conversely, if both spouses drive and jointly own or lease the vehicle, one party may legally install a tracking advice without the knowledge of the other. If the vehicle is owned and registered in both names, but it is beyond question that only one spouse ever drives it, it may still be illegal for the non-driving spouse to install a tracking device on it.

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