Can I get in trouble for opening my husband’s mail if we are separatedbut I’m still living in the residence?

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Can I get in trouble for opening my husband’s mail if we are separatedbut I’m still living in the residence?

Not divorced yet.

Asked on January 4, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

These are common questions that arise in family court situations.  This would fall under the general heading of "mail tampering."  We have all heard the famous line "tampering with the US mail is a Federal Offense."  This falls under Section 1708 of the United States Code, Title 18, and yes, opening someone else's mail can land you fines and imprisonment for up to five years.  When you are married there is an implied permission that you are allowed to open eachother's mail.  However, when one party has moved out that permission is considered rescinded.  Sometimes the type of mail and what you do with it matters.  For example, if you open a bill addressed to him it would be different from opening say a letter regarding his job and then hiding it on him.  It would be best to err on the side of caution and leave the mail alone.  Good luck.


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