Discreet Investigation Service

How GPS Technology Can Be Used in Divorce Cases


Over the years, there have been two statements we have repeatedly heard from clients when it comes to divorce investigations that have come from friends or lawyers and have unfortunately steered some clients in the wrong direction. These two statements are: “Connecticut is a no fault state so evidence doesn't matter,” and “evidence from a GPS tracking unit is more than sufficient.”

Both of these statements can be very misleading, and by the time the client realizes this, it is too late to go back and fix the mistake. Saying Connecticut is a “no fault” state when it comes to divorce is only partially correct; Connecticut is a no fault option state, which means that two parties can divorce easily and cost effectively as long as they are both in agreement with who gets what and how much goes to whom; however if there is any disagreement with how assets are divided, evidence such as adultery and/or actions detrimental to the marriage can be used to show injury as well as pain and suffering. The myth that evidence like this can't be used started with a small group of lawyers who would rather fight it out at trial than try to settle based on evidence, as trials can be more lucrative than settling a case. In this scenario, the client often suffers as they have no evidence that they are indeed the injured party and are rightfully entitled to certain assets.

The other misleading tactic clients are often told will hold up in a court of law is trying to use only GPS data to prove adultery and/or actions detrimental to the marriage. The mistake is that a GPS only tells where a vehicle has gone, not what the person is actually doing. Although it would make sense that if a vehicle were at a hotel, the person driving the vehicle was most likely there for the wrong reason (as pertains to his or her marriage), there are two fundamental facts that remain in the court’s eyes:

1)     GPS tracking systems are not 100 percent accurate; they can be up to 50 feet off target and misleading when a vehicle is near intersections, corners, and in neighborhoods where roads are very close. For example, if a vehicle parks at 3 John Street, which is a residence at the corner of John Street and Smith Street, the GPS could incorrectly report the position as 8 Smith Street; it's not because it doesn't know where it is, but because of how the GPS pings and coordinates with the mapping software used to operate these units.

2)     The court system uses actual facts when they take evidence into account, and being that GPS systems only show vehicle location, even if that vehicle goes to a hotel, without evidence to say otherwise, no one can say with 100 percent certainty that the individual driving went into the hotel or the restaurant next door or if they were alone or with others. In these instances, the courts cannot take sides and say they believe one party over the other, so they deem the evidence as inconclusive and not admissible in court. For this reason, it is very important that surveillance be used in conjunction with a GPS as to make sure the evidence is solid.

It is important to remember that lawyers know the laws but that doesn't always mean they understand their applicability to a specific case or know what evidence is going to be accepted when they don't know or understand how it is gathered. If you are pursuing a divorce in Connecticut, make sure you don’t intend to rely solely on GPS data, but GPS data in conjunction with licensed surveillance to prove your case.