Separating Digital Lives
When separation or divorce is in the horizon, it is important to remember that your life is intertwined on and offline. Most of all of us own a computer, smart phone, smart watch or even a smart speaker. Here are five tips to remember in the digital world, when you are separating from your relationship.
1. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS
For many couples, sign of real trust in their relationship is sharing their passwords with their significant other. A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University says that the average number of shared accounts per romantic relationship is 4. Most of the accounts that are shared are entertainment, finance, online shopping and social media. Sharing accounts is fine until you’re splitting up. At best, you don’t want your “it was mutual” ex prying into your post marriage personal life; at worst, you don’t want that “crazy” ex stalking you, hijacking your accounts or trying to damage your reputation. Go through every online account you have and change your passwords. Make sure you're doing this on a gadget that's yours and yours alone. When creating a new password, it needs to be strong and unique, not simply the family dog’s name. Remember that your soon to be ex probably knows all your most common passwords. When going through accounts and changing passwords, it’s probably better to change the security questions as well.
2. DITCH SHARED SERVICES
Think about the amount of online accounts you have. How many accounts do you share with your spouse? When it comes to separating, who would get the Netflix or Amazon account? Our lives are so connected online, it’s easier to separate the things listed above sooner than later.
Another thing to remember is that many times your credit card information can be saved on various websites you share, it’s best to delete your cards from any place that unauthorized purchases can be made.
Apple users might be sharing an Apple ID and iCloud accounts. With a shared iCloud account, your ex-partner can see just about everything you do including your mail, contacts, photos, locations, what you're buying, or even make their own purchases.
Home security may even be at risk with wireless cameras storing data in the Cloud, smart thermostats, alarm systems and the variety of smart home devices available, such as door locks, garage doors, and light bulbs.
Children’s devices are particularly challenging. If a child has a wireless device, it’s likely tied to your network, which means a spouse can access that network through the child’s device if he or she really wants to. Even children’s game counsel accounts (PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo etc.), can allow the other parent to make unauthorized purchases at your expense. A difficult decision needs to be made regarding whether children should have multiple accounts or be allowed to take devices with them when they visit the other parent. Whether the risk is worth it will depend on the individual co-parenting relationship you may have.
3. WIPE SHARED GADGETS
Speaking of shared things, there is a high chance you share a tablet or computer as well. It could be holding passwords, credit card info, tax returns, browsing history and other things that you don't want to leave behind. Transfer anything important to your own separate gadget, erase your own personal data and make sure it's permanently deleted. Remember that when deleting anything, make sure its one hundred percent just yours, do not delete anything of your former partner. If you still must share a computer for any reason, create your own password-protected account to keep your information separate.
4. SECURE YOUR OWN GADGETS
If you've been living with someone, they probably know your phone password, and have had access to any of your other electronic devices. You should immediately change your passwords. It is very common to have a tracking system set up such as, Find My Friends or it’s possible you may have shared your location in the past. It is recommended to turn off these tracking systems. One other thing to look for is a “spy app” on your phone. They have become very popular with parents watching what their children are doing, but can also be used to see what a soon to be former partner is up to.
5. CHECK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
When splitting up you need to decide whether to stay friends with your ex on social media. Having them as a friend on social media means they can see everything you are and have been posting. Another thing is to check your privacy setting to make sure you are not sharing anything with the world that you don’t want to share with everyone. Also, it’s not a bad idea to go through your posting history and take down anything that looks bad on your part. It is extremely common especially in cases involving children for attorneys to check social media and take advantage of your mistakes. Your kids are going to be spending time with both parents. That gives the ex an opportunity to look through your kid’s phone, be careful what you share with them as well if they are your “friends” on social media.
Divorce with minor children can be emotionally difficult and the decisions made can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of divorce and creating a suitable parenting plan. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at Office@bainslawfirm.com, to talk about your divorce or need to create a parenting plan.
Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.
Faklaris, Cori, et al. “CyLab Study: Romantic Couples Are Sharing Online Accounts in Security-Compromising Ways.” CyLab Security & Privacy Institute, 7 Sept. 2018, www.cylab.cmu.edu/news/2018/09/07-romantic-couples-security.html.