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Digital Precautions in Preparation for Divorce

Clarkston Legal July 22, 2014

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.