Divorce in the Digital Age

According to a CNN report, 36% of Americans shared or planned to share a salacious photo with their partner over text message, e-mail or social network programs such as Facebook and Twitter. Increasingly, North Carolina Family Law cases involve a dispute over digital access or information obtained through electronic medium.

In our ever-connected digital lifestyles, most people store or access important information, such as bank accounts or photographs, on some electronic medium. While websites and social media platforms require a username and password, many partners either share that information with one another during their relationship or, after the relationship ends, can easily guess the other’s password as a birthday, anniversary, or a child or pet’s name. A recent study revealed that 56% of people spied on their former partner’s social media pages and bank accounts, while 48.8% read their former partner’s emails. Men were found to be more likely than women to secretly check their former partner’s personal accounts and emails. These numbers highlight the importance of not only digitally protecting oneself during a relationship but also protecting oneself after the relationship has ended by changing and creating strong online passwords.

Additionally, those racy photographs and text messages sent via cell phone, email, or social media never really go away, even if deleted. According to a study conducted by digital security company McAfee, the maker of a popular anti-virus software, 1 in 10 exes have threatened to post a revealing photo of a former partner online and 60% of those exes have actually done so. It is not shocking that the disclosure of personal photographs following a separation has become a common source of argument and dispute for North Carolinians going through a divorce.

How can those going through the process of divorce protect themselves from the potential that their former partner ay use their personal information against them? What to do during divorce in the digital age? Start with a few simple adjustments, such as changing all passwords and adding a passcode to your mobile device and computer. Installing antivirus and tracking software is another good measure to take if there is a potential threat to personal security. Be sure to delete any compromising personal files from your devices, and attempt to reason with your former partner to do the same. And finally, talk with a family law attorney about your options regarding personal security during and after the divorce process.

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