The divorce attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier offer six tips for addressing technology matters while going through a divorce.
Although this statement probably comes as no surprise, it never hurts to reiterate that there are many crucial components of a marriage that need to be settled when a couple decides it’s time to divorce. Between allocating martial assets, ordering a child custody agreement or dividing marital property, each spouse should be prepared to diligently work with his or her divorce attorney to increase the probability of achieving the desired outcomes.
So, due the significance of the decisions that need to be made regarding the more obvious aspects of a marriage, the thought of worrying about exposure on miniscule digital accounts seems insignificant. However, failing to take the appropriate action as it pertains to securing digital accounts could be detrimental in the pursuit of the more concerning matters mentioned above.
Here are six technology-related issues that you need to address if you and your spouse are in the midst of a divorce.
- Remove your information from any shared accounts and add it to a personal account. This includes information as trivial as photos from an online storage account to information as critical as personal financial documents from an e-filing system. Securing your content before the topic of future account ownership arises in court could spare you a lot of arguments over who will retain ownership.
- Disable a shared email account. If you and your spouse share an email address for personal or business reasons, send an email to your regular contacts informing them of your personal email address (if you don’t have a personal email, then create one), forward any important emails or attachments to yourself and then delete the shared account to prevent your spouse from viewing information that could negatively impact the divorce.
- Erase any traces of yourself on a shared computer. Clear the history of your usage on the computer(s) that you and your spouse shared. This includes clearing all of the saved passwords (even if you’ve changed them), deleting the web-browsing history in the computer’s history or security section and saving any personal files or pictures onto an external hard drive (and then deleting them from the computer). Erasing these traces of yourself will reduce the temptation for your partner to track your behaviors or log in to your personal accounts.
- Create new passwords for all of your digital accounts, even if they were personal from the start. In many cases, spouses choose passwords for accounts created during the marriage that reflect mutually-known milestones such as an anniversary or a birthday, so it’s imperative for each partner involved in a divorce to change his or her passwords (to something unique and untraceable) to prevent the other partner from hacking into accounts to search for or obtain incriminating information.
- Change the passcode on your phone. If you have previously set a passcode to access your phone, change it as soon as you and your spouse decide to make the split. If you do not have a passcode, then enable this feature if it is available. This will help ensure that you’re the only person with access to the applications on your cellphone.
- Cancel the joint phone plan. By maintaining a joint phone plan throughout the course of your divorce, you are giving a resentful partner the ability to impart some control over your cellphone applications, which could result in him or her investigating your phone for information or downloading applications that could track your whereabouts.
As you take the necessary steps to secure your personal information and digital accounts, do not intentionally destroy or erase information that may be subject to a discovery order in your case. If you do intentionally destroy documentation that is subject to discovery, including but not limited to online banking information, social media history, etc., you may be subject to sanctions or fines later in the process for what is essentially destruction of evidence.
By completing these six tasks described above, you will significantly decrease the likelihood of your soon-to-be-ex spouse from becoming a fly on the wall for your future conversations or track your behaviors with the intent of using them against you in the courtroom.
For more information about the technological aspects associated with divorce or your individual family law needs, contact the divorce attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide about the subject matter. A licensed Maryland attorney should be sought about your specific circumstances.