Before and during a separation or divorce, managing your electronic data must be a priority. We all use technology and have digital data to protect. But, when it comes to divorce, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. While there are privacy laws that protect some of your electronic data, here are some helpful tips to further safeguard that data during your divorce.
1. Create a New, Secure Email Address
Your email communications with your lawyer are confidential. Consider creating a new, designated email address with a secured password solely for communications with your attorney. They are privileged and you should do what you can to ensure you do not waive this privilege by allowing others access to the communications. If your spouse knows your email address, they may attempt to guess your password, but this cannot be done if they don’t know your email address. Protecting your emails also keeps all your case-related communications in one place.
2. Change Your Passwords
Whether or not you share passwords with your spouse, once you have decided to separate, it is best to change the passwords for all your online accounts. From Netflix to Facebook and everything in between, all passwords should be changed, and you should be sure the recovery system is not being sent to a spouse’s email. Try to come up with a new password that would be difficult for anyone to guess, including your spouse.
3. Update your Privacy Settings
Shared applications with your spouse, such as your Apple ID/Google ID, may provide them with access to your location, calendar, text messages, notes, emails, and your photos. While it's convenient while couples are together, once separated, sharing such information can be a problem. Any accounts that are shared, including cell phone plans and social media accounts, should have access revoked. Consider deleting apps like Find my Friends, and update location settings on apps such as Snapchat or any others that share your location. Data such as your location, date, and time can be provided each time you take a photo or video. This information may seem innocent, but it could be used against you in the trial. Additionally, if your ID is linked to a tablet or other device that your child transports between you and your spouse, consider updating the device to an entirely new email address that does not link to your personal email or the new email address you created for communications with your attorney. Clicking “remember me” is convenient, but you could make the mistake of logging into the device with your personal account. Instead, consider creating a new email and password for the child’s device and saving the information into a Word or note document on the device.
4. Audit Your Social Media Accounts and Future Communications
In addition to updating all your social media passwords and updating privacy settings, now is a time to consider auditing your accounts for content. If your social media accounts are public (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) they can be fair game for disputes in the divorce and/or custody. Remove posts that do not serve you (although your spouse may already have saved them). A family law dispute is often intensely emotional, and some may post threats, admissions, or make accusations. These posts are frequently presented as evidence in court and can be detrimental to your case. Remain cautious on all future postings. The same goes for communications such as text messages or voicemails to your spouse or other family members. Don’t make the call or send the message in the heat of the moment. Take some time to reflect and review your message before sending it and consider whether it is a message you would want the court to see. You may also consider asking your attorney to review a message before sending it.
Divorce is never completely clean, and often far from easy. Yet, protecting yourself against privacy breaches is something you can start right away, finish completely on your own, and will help to safeguard you down the road.
Get in touch with our offices in Fargo, ND, or Moorhead, MN. Our team of experienced attorneys offers unparalleled service for couples seeking separation and other legal services associated with divorce. For amicable divorces, couples can seek our North Dakota mediation or Minnesota mediation services.
Kirsty joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2021. During law school, Kirsty pursued a Child Welfare Certificate which focused on child welfare issues, courtroom advocacy, trauma-infor…
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