Hiring A Queens Divorce Attorney To Prevent Your Spouse From Spying On You
Perhaps it never hurts to try, but for one Brooklyn man who did quite a lot wrong on his way to divorce court, it seems likely that his latest legal filing will end up being considered little more than a nuisance. In particular, Crocker Coulson, a 53-year-old investment relations executive, has filed a motion alleging that his estranged wife is in breach of the temporary agreement they reached when their divorce began in 2014. Under those terms, she was supposed to pay him $8,250 a month in maintenance for the duration of the divorce, and according to Coulson, Anne Resnik hasn’t ponied up in months.
What changed for Coulson and Resnik? For starters, Brooklyn Judge Jeffrey Sunshine issued a blistering ruling in February taking Coulson to task for digitally spying on his wife before and after the divorce began. As punishment for his egregious violation of legal rules and norms, not to mention his estranged wife’s privacy, Sunshine ruled that Coulson had forfeited any claim to the couple’s cash, assets, or alimony from Resnik. As the daughter of former Philip Morris CEO Frank Resnik, she is independently wealthy and typically described as a “tobacco heiress,” so the impact of Sunshine’s ruling is potentially significant for Coulson’s future financial life.
If Sunshine’s decision seems extreme, it’s worth considering what, exactly, Coulson did to inspire his wrath. In 2014, Coulson began to suspect that his wife was having an affair. In October of that year, he spent $50 on a spyware app that he secretly installed on Resnik’s phone. The app, called mSpy, opened everything about her mobile device up to her snooping husband, from location tracking, to email access, to her pictures and internet searches, and even turning her phone’s microphone on remotely to hear her in-person conversations. Coulson soon watched as GPS showed his wife at a hospital where her alleged boyfriend was recovering from a biking accident. She spent hours there, prompting Coulson to file for divorce.
This is where Coulson’s story takes a darker turn. Having, apparently, caught his wife in the act, he had the option of revealing the existence of the spyware, but he chose to continue to keep it a secret – and, according to court records, to use it aggressively. Later computer forensics would show that Coulson was accessing the app’s “listen in” feature up to 59 times a day by the end of 2014, as his wife was doing things like interviewing divorce lawyers and visiting her psychiatrist. She hired celebrity divorce attorney Raoul Felder, who dove into Coulson’s financial disclosures with some zeal. While reviewing Coulson’s PayPal activity, Felder noticed the $50 payment for mSpy and asked Resnik if she would give her phone to a computer security expert he knew to see if she was being monitored. Days later, Felder was in front of Judge Sunshine, revealing that Coulson had accessed as many as 200 confidential emails via Resnik’s phone, according to a preliminary analysis.
Felder asked the judge to order Coulson to hand over all of his digital devices for inspection by an expert, and Sunshine agreed that there was cause. Sheriffs took custody of ten of Coulson’s computers, his iPhone, and his iPad and a neutral, court-appointed computer expert went looking for evidence of Coulson’s use of mSpy. While Coulson’s lawyers had vigorously insisted that he wasn’t spying on Resnik, the results of the digital analysis were shocking even for a Brooklyn judge who’s seen a lot in his career. It didn’t help his case when Coulson, on the stand, was asked about installing the app to spy on his wife’s phone. According to Sunshine’s later ruling, Coulson, “laughed and invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination approximately 58 times.”
At issue in the case were important notions, like attorney-client confidentiality and doctor-patient confidentiality. Resnik’s team argued persuasively that Coulson had knowing violated both, as well as her privacy more generally. Additionally, Coulson was charged criminally based on his efforts to destroy evidence of his digital snooping. As Sunshine put it, Coulson “attempted to ‘hack’ this litigation and to control it using knowledge gained by ‘listening in’ on [his wife’s] attorney-client privileged consultations and by reading her privileged communications.” In addition, Resnik and Coulson have two children and have been battling over custody since the outset of the divorce. Listening in on her conversations with her therapist could have provided him with significant ammunition in that fight.
To balance the scales that Coulson had improperly tilted his way, Sunshine took the extreme step of disqualifying Coulson from any financial benefits in the divorce. “The readily available and sophisticated spyware available in this Internet Age to a spouse intent on wielding power over another spouse presents a new tool of control,” Sunshine wrote. “The court finds that these victims must be protected by the imposition of the strictest penalties possible.” To that end, Coulson got none of the couple’s assets and was no longer eligible for alimony. He could still get child support payments for his share of parenting, but that was about all that was open to him.
But now he’s back, arguing that the temporary agreements he and Resnik signed in January 2015, before the digital intrusions had been found, are more binding than the 2018 ruling punishing him for his misconduct. He’s demanding to know why Resnik – apparently with Sunshine’s permission – has stopped paying the $8,250 a month in maintenance that he had been receiving until Sunshine’s ruling. It’s a strange argument and one that seems unlikely to go his way, but when you have nothing left to lose, perhaps a Hail Mary throw using contract law is the best choice among an array of bad options.
How To Prevent A Spouse From Spying On You During A Queens Divorce Case
Spying on a spouse during a Queens Divorce case can have serious consequences.
When your marriage in Queens is ending, an experienced lawyer can help you avoid the pitfalls that bedevil many divorce cases. Call the team at Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino today at 718-523-1111 for a free consultation with an experienced Queens divorce and child custody attorney.