Taking steps toward digital protection during divorce or a breakup is now among the first things you must do to protect your privacy and assets. This issue has taken a spotlight in national media as this article in USA Today shows.
Just as a married couple might share finances, a home, bank accounts, debts, and even children you re more digitally connected in many other ways. When you’re going through a breakup or divorce, it is important to make sure you divorce digitally as well.
Here are five tips for digital protection during divorce:
Change your passwords
Your ex may well know your passwords, but even if you don’t think so, have you ever logged into any if your own accounts on your ex’s phone, laptop or desktop computer? Not only should you change your passwords but make a list of all the devices that might contain saved passwords. Even with changed passwords, it would be wise to add two-step verification to your security measures.
Take your ex off your Netflix, Apple, and other shared accounts
It is best to either take your ex off all previously shared accounts such as Netflix. If you are not the owner of the account, then separate yourself and establish your own account. Unfortunately though it might be tempting to share some of these “harmless platforms” you likely don’t need to be reminded of your ex’s viewing habits and preferences as your activities are mixed on the accounts.
Turn off notifications
Remember how easy it was to be notified of each other’s whereabouts and posts when you were in love? Certainly, now you don’t want Facebook reminding you about anniversaries and other important dates. Nor do you want your location and activities to be easily visible to your ex. Facebook, Instagram, What’s App are only a few applications to change. Check your preferences so that you don’t get annoying reminders.
Limit your posts on social media and do it with care
If you are going through a divorce, anything you post on social media can be used against you in court. Even a seemingly innocent post can backfire. Social media posts are never truly considered private, no matter if you unfriend, block, or privatize your account. To protect yourself fully during your divorce, it is wise to refrain from posting anything at all on social media.
Connecting with true friends (not followers) is still very important as you go through a trying emotional time. Reach out to them individually and off line as much as possible.
Online dating is a NO
For many reasons it would be best for you to stay away from online dating while waiting for your divorce to be finalized. While some might say it is better for your emotional health to not date immediately, we are focused on your legal and privacy risk.
Online dating sites require sharing a lot of personal information. Your ex could easily see your account: some are even searchable through search engines like Google. Your actions online are open to scrutiny and if anything points to irresponsible actions in any way, it could be easily used against you in custody court. Even if you weren’t serious in your comments, a profile that says they are looking for casual encounters can paint the picture of a poor candidate for sole custody of a child.
Divide online assets
Online assets can range from a shared account like your Apple account to digital photographs stored on online galleries or a local hard drive. When the digital assets are an e-commerce website or other online business that increases the complexity and requires the attentions of your attorney. Be cognizant of what online assets exist and take steps to separate accounts and find an equitable way to divide the assets or copy photos files in that case.
Digital Protection During Divorce under Florida Law
When you have taken all of these steps to ensure your privacy with digital accounts, and your ex still attempts or succeeds in accessing any of your electronic data, Florida law provides protection. Intercepting communications such as emails or phone calls, accessing a computer, eavesdropping or wiretapping, and logging into a spouse’s computer is illegal under Florida law. Therefore, the evidence obtained can not only be excluded from the case, but a spouse may also face criminal penalties. Under Florida Statute 934.03 “any person who: intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication…” can be found guilty of a felony of the third degree. Penalties incurred with this charge may be imprisonment of 5 years and or fines of $5000.
This article is a service provided by Faith Z. Brown, P.A. and is not intended to serve as legal advice.