SINGAPORE - A nurse who filed for divorce was shocked when her technician husband filed a counter claim accusing her of having an affair.
Grace (not her real name), 42, had decided on divorce after putting up with years of her husband coming home drunk, and getting verbally abusive.
Her lawyer, Ms Gloria James-Civetta, said the husband produced in court e-mail that Grace had sent to the man and photographs of the two together.
Grace, who denied the relationship, said: "I was so surprised that he had those materials because we slept separately after our marriage turned rocky, and my computer was in my room."
She found out during mediation that her husband had hired a private investigator, who made at least two visits to their five-room flat in Ang Mo Kio to plant spyware in her computer while she was at work.
The bug enabled him to receive a copy of every e-mail she sent and retrieve information stored in the desktop.
Ms James-Civetta objected to the use of this evidence in court. The e-mail and photos were not allowed to be admitted, as her husband failed to tell the court how he had obtained the information.
Grace was granted a divorce in October last year on the grounds of her husband's unreasonable behaviour.
"While this is a simpler case where the couple are simply fighting over the grounds of divorce to save face, the stakes could be much higher if assets or custody of children is involved," said Ms James-Civetta.
"That is why some spouses may turn desperate and resort to illegal ways of gaining the upper hand."
Snooping in divorce cases goes high-tech
Couples involved in bitter break-ups are increasingly resorting to illegal snooping to obtain incriminating information against their spouses, lawyers say.
Already, most of the evidence used in divorce cases these days comes from high-tech devices like mobile phones and computers. To get the upper hand, some spouses hire computer experts to hack into e-mail accounts or plant spyware in laptops and smartphones.
"In the past, it was the traditional documents and letters, but now, with technology and social media, as many as eight in 10 cases involve computer-generated evidence," said family lawyer Rajan Chettiar.