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Monday, July 21, 2014

Preparing Yourself Digitally for a New York City Divorce

In the past 20 years, technology has significantly altered the way in which we live our lives - from the way we communicate to the way we manage our money to the way we store personal archives. Our New York City divorce lawyers recognize that it has also changed the way in which we end our marriages.

Digital files can make it easier to track unscrupulous transactions and efforts to hide assets. Social media can come into play in matters of child custody and sometimes division of assets (depending on how open both parties are with their postings). Electronic communication between parties can be presented as evidence supporting one conclusion or refuting another.

Still, the law is often decidedly antiquated and, and in many ways, struggle to keep pace. This is why it's imperative for individuals to take charge of protecting their own interests in this regard. Consultation with an experienced attorney, even if you are still on the fence about whether to file, can help you determine what steps you will need to take to protect your digital profile and information. Given that so much of our lives have become so heavily dependent on technology, it's an important consideration. 

USA Today recently published an article offering some useful advice on how to prepare your online self for a separation and subsequent divorce.

The first element involves changing passwords. Many couples view it as a sign of trust that they can share passwords, though some might argue it displays the exact opposite. The Pew Research Center indicates nearly 70 percent of couples share at least one password to an online account. Either way, an ex with access to passwords to your social media accounts, your bank accounts or your credit card accounts can be detrimental to you, particularly if the split is acrimonious.

Secondly, if you have shared services with your ex, such as a joint social media profile or Apple iCloud account or ID, it may be time for a change. Continued use of a shared account is going to give your ex access to almost everything you do, including your location, what your purchasing, photographs, new contacts and emails.

Thirdly, if you share a tablet or computer, erase those of anything that would hold information regarding your passwords, tax returns, credit card information or browsing history. On gadgets such as smartphones and tablets, you may want to consider a full factory reset to make certain the device is clean.

Additionally, you may want to restrict the privacy settings on your social media. Consider that if you stay "friends" with an ex, he or she will be able to view whatever you post. Know too that friends of friends may grant him or her access to your information, so it may be worthwhile to trim your friends list. If you choose not to take that action, just be judicious in what you post, and always be cognizant of how certain pictures or words might be used against you in family court. Examples might include posting pictures of vacations or gifts you share with your new love interest, trashing your ex online, or talking about work life or recent large purchases.

While it's important to protect your information and digital assets, it's important that you not transfer funds from a joint account to your single account without first clearing it with your attorney to ensure you can legally do this without penalty.

Any other specific concerns about divorce or family law, contact our Brooklyn law office at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Divorcing? 5 things to do online now, July 11, 2014, By Kim Komando, USA Today

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