Technology is an ever-present part of our lives, so it should come as no surprise that many of our clients encounter issues with the use (or misuse) of technology during their divorce. Here are some of the most common digital issues we encounter and our tips on how to handle them:
The Issue: A Snooping Partner: Often the temptation to look through a partner’s phone, e-mail, social media or bank accounts is too strong to overcome. If your partner knows your passwords to your digital accounts, you are making it too easy for them to start digging through your accounts or taking screenshots of your messages. Even if you think your partner does not know your password, change it. You could be wrong. Don’t forget to change your iCloud or Google settings as well if you have been sharing a family iCloud account that could allow your partner to get into your texts and emails. While you are at it, change the settings on your phone so that emails and texts do not pop up on your lock screen (or if you’re on Android, you can block the content of these messages). If you’re the snooping partner, be aware that your snooping could get you into legal trouble. If you see communications between your partner and their attorney, you are reading legally privileged information. If you log in to your partner’s email account without their permission, you might also be violating your state’s privacy laws.
The Issue: Oversharing on Social Media: When you are divorcing, the less you post on social media the better. You should never use social media to harass your partner or publicly berate them. But even benign social media posts can get you into trouble. Drunk selfies uploaded at 2 a.m. won’t help your custody case and Instagram photos of you at New York’s hottest restaurant can undermine a claim for support. If you are on social media, change your privacy settings so that your partner cannot see or comment on your posts. You may want to block your partner’s account if you know it. Even then, remember that you could have friends in common and that people often create fake accounts to gain access to your page. Make sure that your Facebook and other social media profiles are “locked down” tightly in your privacy settings. If you use social media to find support from other divorcing people, think about joining a closed or “secret” group.
The Issue: Comparing Your Life to Those Around You: How many hours a week do you spend scrolling through Instagram and Facebook posts, looking at other people’s picture perfect lives? Real life often is quite different than what you see online, but it still can sting to see the happy photos posted by your family and friends. Consider taking a break from social media while you sort through your feelings about your divorce. If a social media ban is too much, consider “unfollowing” (or “muting” if you are concerned about hurt feelings) anyone whose posts are going to burn. Follow people that will provide more inspiration.
The Issue: Losing Access to Digital Files: We have seen clients spend hundreds of dollars fighting about digital photos and trying to get copies. If you are thinking about a divorce or separation, make yourself a copy of your family photos now. If you are the one inclined to keep the family photos from your spouse, don’t. How would you feel if you were left with no photos of your kids from before the divorce? Probably not good. As for other computer files, add those to your backup too. Financial records that are needed to prove claims in a divorce tend to disappear once a case starts.
We advise clients on digital habits relating to divorce regularly. If you have questions about this topic, Greenblatt Law can help. And if you are on social media, find us on Facebook (@greenblattlawllc) and Instagram (@greenblattlawllc).