Modern digital technology makes it easier than ever for people to stay in touch with each other. Everything we touch, it seems, is ultimately connected to the (wildly public) Internet. It’s important to keep in mind that even when you think you’re doing something secret online, it’s easier than you might think for someone who was determined to access that information.
Consider carefully what you do and say online, before, during and after your divorce, since this kind of thing can come back on you. At the same time, you’ll want to beef up your security from top to bottom, former spouses may simply get curious or they may be looking for reasons to change your legal arrangements.
We’re Separated Now I Can Do What I Want!
In an ideal world, once you and your ex decide to separate, you would each be free to lead your own lives as you see fit. The real world doesn’t work in quite the same manner. While you may have decided to end your relationship, anything you say or do during your separation (or even after your divorce) can be used against you.
Think Before you Put Anything in Writing, Even Electronically
Digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram are great for sharing photos of your family, telling your stories and even celebrating your victories — but until everything about your divorce is settled, keep it low key. After all, that spending spree you went on last week will come back to bite you if you’re trying to convince the courts that you’re struggling financially (even if the money you spent was a gift and you blew it on Christmas gifts for the kids).
Remember that anyone could be watching your social media moves. Before you let your friends take photos of you at a party when you’re supposed to be with your children, consider the advantages of a little Netflix and popcorn at home instead.
Your posts and those of your friends can be shared with others quite easily. Even your emails and text messages aren’t necessarily private. It’s possible that your ex’s lawyer will ask to see your communication or ask to see your phone and the request will be granted. That’s going to be really awkward when the court discovers that you’ve been bad talking your ex.
Protect your Digital Privacy and Security
When facing separation or divorce, you should begin taking steps to preserve your digital privacy and security. Step one should always be changing your email passwords. It’s nice to be able to log in from your phone, a tablet or other mobile device, but this leaves you open to having others access your online communications.
When choosing an new password, keep these points in mind:
- Choose a password that would be difficult for anyone close to you to guess.
- Never include birthdays, names of children or pets or other personal info.
- Longer passwords are often safer, many providers suggest using a short sentence.
- Add punctuation and special characters to really make a secure new password.
Also, remember that your ex may know the answers to the security questions that are often used to confirm your identity when you do reset your password. You should change these, too, even if you believe your former spouse would never access your account or that you have nothing to hide.
Security Starts at Home
Just like in a business setting, the weakest link in your digital security is often more man than machine. Your children should trust their other parent, but you have to make it very clear that they’re not to give them the password to any computer or network in your home.
Setting up a guest network can eliminate this issue entirely and is very easy to do with modern routers. The guest network would give your ex access to the network for legitimate reasons, but not allow them to see anything private. You can think of it as a cement wall between the network your home runs on and people who just want to save their data while they happen to be at your place.
Another really great way to improve your digital security, both at your home and while you’re on the go, is to take advantage of two factor authentication. These systems require that you not only enter your password, but provide some proof that you are who you say you are.
Many smartphones have fingerprint scanners or facial recognition software installed that can definitely prove you are who you claim. Older phones can take advantage of random number generators like Google Authenticator to improve security.
A Special Note for Apple iOS Devices
If you and your ex had an iCloud account or an Apple ID that was synced when the two of you were together, you need to take steps to undo that now. As your relationship unravels, it can give your ex some information you may not wish them to see.
For example, the two of you may have shared your calendars for convenience and to keep your household on track. You may not want your ex to know your movements now that you are no longer a couple. Even without a shared calendar, if your ex has your Apple ID and password, they can find you at any time using “Find My Phone.”
Protecting Your Devices and Data is Not Optional
Our online data sometimes feels like it’s not really “real” and thus, worthless. Unfortunately, when you’re working on a divorce, the little tidbits out there can be collected by savvy people and used against you. That’s the last thing you need right now.
If you’ve been having trouble with your divorce because of data security or are afraid that you may have put the wrong stuff online, please call me as soon as possible for a consultation. You can reach Rodríguez Family Law at 862-241-1228 or send me an email here. Together, we can plan a strategy going forward based on your individual needs and circumstances.