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The digital world and your divorce: The next 4 steps to take

If you're filing for divorce there's probably a huge list of things on your mind that you know you need to handle.

Put protecting your electronic assets and digital data at the top of that list -- because a lot of damage can be done with just the click of a few buttons.

Here are some steps you need to take:

  1. Put a password on all your electronic devices. Most people don't bother password protecting their laptops and phones. If you haven't, it's time to do so -- right now. Protecting your privacy is now important, even if you aren't sure what your spouse could possibly use against you. Don't risk it.
  2. Change all your passwords. The odds are good, if you're like most married people, you share passwords with your spouse -- or maybe you keep yours on a post-it note somewhere visible so you don't forget it. Whatever you do, it's time to change all the passwords -- from the ones you use for your bank accounts, credit cards, Amazon account, Paypal account, Uber account, medical charts and pension plans, all the way down to your Netflix account. Make your password something that your spouse can't easily guess.
  3. Assume everything you've posted online is already compromised. You should change all your social media settings to private and drop off forums that you really don't need to use. While a lot of people keep in touch via Facebook these days, you might want to ditch your Twitter or Instagram accounts for the time being. The less exposed you are, the better. Keep in mind that no matter how "private" your settings, someone you know may be secretly passing information on to your spouse while expressing his or her loyalty to you -- so watch what you say or post.
  4. Don't delete anything that's already out there. Even if there's a post that doesn't exactly make you look the best spouse or parent, deleting that post or photo can be considered spoliation of evidence. Judges can -- and often do -- punish a party that deletes electronic evidence.

As a final protective measure (and maybe a step toward a new life) consider starting new accounts. A fresh email and Facebook account can help you obtain much-needed distance and some better security. An attorney can give you more information on divorce, so that you can make informed decisions in this major life event

Source: Joyce Haas Properties, "Important Electronic Data Considerations When You Initiate a Divorce," accessed Aug. 17, 2017

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