Sunday, July 13, 2014

Digital Precautions in Preparation for Divorce

So you've decided to take that fateful step and file a complaint for divorce.  Prior to doing so, consider these tips, mostly taken from USA Today reporter Kim Kommando's article reprinted in the Freep.

1.  Change Passwords.  Although this seems intuitive, the Freep article points-out that 67% of couples share their passwords on at least one account.  The problem with this that once you begin sharing that password, it is difficult to become disentangled when things go south.

So review your digital estate and, on a device that is not shared with your spouse, change all of your passwords to a strong unique password, using at least one capital letter a symbol, and a combination of letters and numerals.  As pointed out by Ms. Kommando, avoid any combination with which your partner may be accustomed.

2.  Terminate Shared Profiles.  While cute when you're together as a couple, there is nothing more humiliating, even devastating, than having a joint platform which your spouse can co-opt as a soapbox, from which to trash you to your common electronic social circles.  Therefore, prior to making your divorce filing "official", be proactive in swiftly terminating such joint profiles.

3.  Sanitize the Hard Drive of a Shared Device.  Like social media accounts, many couples share computers, laptops, notebooks, tablets, even cell phones.  If this is the case, take a moment to wipe the drive clean after removing all of your key personal and financial data.  [Note: In many a divorces, such shared devices often "disappear".]

4.  Password Protect Your Own Devices.  Do not leave things to chance.  Many divorces cases begin with information one spouse acquired by browsing onto and into the other spouse's non-password-protected device.  If you are serious about filing for divorce, do not allow your spouse the up-front advantage of downloading all of your personal and private data stored on your cell phone, laptop, or tablet.  Call-logs alone can provide a wealth of information that you may not want in the hands of your spouse, or your spouse's divorce professionals.

5.  Curtail Your Social Media Activity.  In the past few months alone, I cannot believe how often we have experienced instances of a divorcing spouse leaving a trail of incriminating evidence on social media sites that are wide-open to the public.  Regardless of the fine-tuning available on the privacy settings of a user's electronic profile, we advise our at-risk divorce clients to simply reduce their presence on social media altogether while going through a divorce.  Easy, simple, problem solved.

If you take these five simple precautions prior to filing for divorce, you will be doing yourself a huge digital favor.  Good luck, its an electronic jungle out there.


Anita Mas said...

I never even thought about deleting our social profiles. I think I'll do that soon. I don't feel like our issues should be known by anyone but us.

Gary Puntman said...

This is good to remember. It seems like there are a lot of things to do when you are getting a divorce and these are often overlooked. Thanks for posting this reminder! I will have to make sure my friend remembers these things. He is currently going through a divorce.
Gary Puntman |

Stacey Beck said...

Electronics rule the world these days. I think this is really smart advice for people getting a divorce. My sisters divorce attorney told her to do the same thing.

Jim Tracy said...

Especially after a divorce, you need to make sure you are being smart electronically. If you aren't, you may be leaving a trail of evidence behind you that will be easy to dig up. You don't want that.

Jim Tracy |

James Harvon said...

Excellent advice on privacy concerns. This should help as people are getting ready for a divorce. The most important thing would be to hire an experienced lawyer though.

bryan flake said...

I feel so unaware of the world around me. I had no idea that "cleaning" your digital footprint can be important in a divorce. The last thing I want is for my identity to get used after I am divorced.

Susan Hirst said...

My niece is going through a divorce and it has been very stressful for her. I'll have to share this information with her. She needs to protect herself from incrimination.

Susan Hirst |