Protecting your privacy during a divorce can be one of the most critical steps you take during your divorce proceedings.
As a divorce and family law firm in Houston, Texas, we are continuously evolving the way we protect client information. From financial statements to court pleadings, it is the firm’s responsibility to safeguard the personal and sensitive information provided by the parties. However, the most vulnerable location for data invasion is located within the client’s home and online presence.
After, often, years of sharing a life with a significant other, a couple’s lives become more entangled, especially in the digital age. Accounts, passwords, and permissions to online accounts and service providers such as social media, email, and institutions managing financial and medical records are often shared between spouses. During the relationship, this may seem inconsequential, but online accounts can contain loads of information that can potentially be used against you during your divorce case.
An experienced divorce attorney can help guide you through protecting the integrity of your private information. Read below for five ways to protect your privacy during a divorce to help get you started.
Change Your Passwords
The first step in protecting your private information from a vengeful spouse or prying eyes is to change your passwords. In some situations, our firm recommends creating a new email address in cases of severe privacy concerns. Check your web history and financial statements to help remind you of other accounts that may need updating.
Be sure to update passwords for:
- Mobile or computer devices and apps
- Secure documents
- Online social media
- Work and home email accounts
- Financial accounts
- Shared “cloud” services, including Dropbox, Amazon, Google, iCloud, and shared calendars.
If your account offers two-step verification, use it. The added layer of security helps prevent an ex from gaining access to an account without your knowledge. You may also consider using a secure password manager such as 1Password, LastPass.
Check for Spyware
Spyware can be installed on almost any electronic device with just a few steps. Depending on the type of software used, users can gain access to the device’s emails, web history, text messages, keystrokes, or any other account installed on the device. It is not unheard of for a spouse to install spyware on the other spouse computers or mobile devices.
Though installing spyware on a spouse’s, or anyone else’s, phone or computer is generally considered illegal; there is a grey area with marital property. Merely changing your passwords may not be enough to protect your accounts and information. If you suspect your device is compromised, contact legal counsel immediately.
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods
Dispute resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative law help keep your personal and financial information from being filed with the court. Unless your case file has been sealed, such information can become public. Mediation and the collaborative law process keep couples out of the courtroom and their private information secure.
Keep It to Yourself
Divorce is an extremely emotional time and can take a toll both financially and emotionally. It is only natural to seek advice and support from someone you trust, even when the details you disclose can be at risk. The most secure option is to speak with professionals such as a therapist, counselor, or even a leader of your church.
Apps that help locate a misplaced phone or other devices may seem insignificant. Still, anything that can track your current or previous location should be disabled immediately, even before you meet with an attorney. Consider GPS logs in your car and social media location services such as Find My Friend or other location-sharing applications.
Do not delete or destroy any information on your social media accounts or any other account. The act of evidence tampering can do more harm to your case than the evidence itself. Talk to your attorney about any concerns you have about any content or records that may affect your case.