Dear Carolyn:

I think my wife is having an affair. One of my friends said I should save the money on a detective and use an AirTag locating device. The friend thought I might slip one in her car and her purse. These only cost $30 or $40 and seem like a deal compared to a private investigator. Can I get in trouble for using the AirTag like this?


Carolyn Answers:

Do not use an AirTag tracking device, as your friend suggested. While I cannot yet cite you to a case precedent, my analysis says there are many problems, including potential criminal issues like stalking. There also are civil torts, such as invasion of privacy, that are problematic with using an AirTag.

The State of North Carolina licenses private investigators. Their licenses permit them to do things for hire that an individual cannot do for themselves. For example, it is lawful in North Carolina for a private detective to place a GPS on a vehicle that is the subject of the detective’s investigation. It is not lawful for an individual to put the GPS on a spouse’s or former spouse’s car for a family law investigation into adultery. I am making an analogy between the GPS device and the AirTag because, essentially, the AirTag is a GPS.

Spend the money on a legitimate private detective. Then, if you are right, you can block spousal support or use otherwise in your family law case because you will have admissible evidence.


Send your family law and divorce questions to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”