Not surprisingly, North Carolina divorces today usually involve some type of dispute over digital media access or other information obtained through the means of social media. After all, almost everything is online, from our banking and financial accounts to our media. With the prevalent use of digital technology, it is common for spouses to not only share passwords with one another, but reuse passwords for multiple accounts. And even in situations where passwords are not shared, spouses are often able to guess them by simply trying familiar phrases, birthdays, anniversaries or pet names. In this new technological world, how does one navigate a divorce in the digital age?
On one end of the spectrum, you may have a spouse who utilizes technology to essentially spy on you. This can easily be done through subscription services, apps on devices, or GPS trackers being secretly placed on your automobile. Some may even continue to access your financial information through online banking or other online accounts.
The best way to protect yourself and your privacy is to take the following steps:
- Create a spreadsheet, change your passwords, and make them strong by using a password generator. Don’t forget to change your passwords for your home security network, garage door, and other home technologies your ex may have access to.
- Stop sharing your location. Many don’t realize this is even being done as it can happen unknowingly through text messages sent and received.
- Unlink unknown devices from your accounts.
- Enable two factor authentication on accounts where available.
- Enable password protection on your devices.
- Install antivirus software everywhere.
- If you are under threat of physical violence, consider installing tracking software on your device.
- Speak with a family law attorney about your concerns and ways to protect yourself.
It has become more common for exes to use social media posts in a divorce against their soon-to-be ex. Anything you post will be scrutinized and is generally admissible in court as evidence. This is why most attorneys will often advise clients going through a divorce to pause their social media presence and refrain from posting anything.
Seemingly innocent posts can have a negative effect on your case for child custody, child support, spousal support, and equitable distribution. For example:
Evidence of waste, neglect or other acts that diminish the value of marital property can be considered during the division of property and have a negative impact on the assets awarded to you.
Evidence as to a luxurious and lavish lifestyle or excessive spending can have a negative impact on property awarded through equitable distribution, spousal support, and child support awards.
Evidence as to adultery can quickly derail a claim for alimony.
For child custody, any type of post or picture that would lead the court to believe that a child is in danger, such as alcohol, drug use, or other behaviors, can lead to trouble.
In addition to your postings, private messages and emails also can be submitted as evidence to the court. This includes text messages, so tread carefully when putting anything in writing that could place you in a negative light.
If you have concerns about digital assets, access to your electronic personal information, or social media, speak with a family law attorney right away about your options. The choices that you make during a divorce are final and have long-term consequences.
At Hopper Cummings, our family law attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping our clients efficiently resolve their issues during divorce. We can help you identify areas of conflict and offer creative resolutions to ensure your wishes are clearly defined and interest protected. Contact us today for a confidential consultation by using our online intake forms or calling 919-533-4115.
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