In today’s world of technology, a common question (or it should be) from clients going through a divorce is: what is my risk with electronic devices?
That usually is a question that pops up because the client has done something they are concerned about or their spouse has done something they feel has violated their rights to privacy. The State Bar of Texas published an article in this month’s Texas Bar Journal that is a nice overview of this question. In fact, the author references a Denton County case in which, “…a video doorbell system was used to prove that one party was entering the home in violation of a restraining order.”
In a case such as that, security systems and other electronic devices have become the BFF of the family lawyer; in the past, we were often left to a “he said–she said” as to whether someone was violating a restraining order, but now with technology, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video (with sound) may be worth a million, so to speak.
Here are a few of Jessica Hoffman’s suggestions:
- Change your passwords periodically. She says be sure to use capitalized letters, numbers, and special characters. Now, if you are under a Temporary Restraining Order or a Standing Order in Texas, be sure to talk to you attorney about doing this if you have already filed for divorce or your spouse has filed. If you or they have already filed, you may need to seek permission from the Court before changing your passwords.
- Separate your Apple user ID from your spouse’s and your children; if you do not, Hoffman says, and your accounts are linked, “…apps you download or photos you take may get downloaded through the cloud onto your children’s devices and be in plain sight of anyone who has the device.”
- She says you should consider disabling device tracking; while it may be helpful to locate your teen, those features can show people to whom you are connected where you and your children are.
- Watch out for what you are watching! In other words, make sure such accounts as Netflix, Amazon and DirecTV accounts are separated from your spouse, or they may have access to know what you are watching.
Hoffman offers many other insights and suggestions that are valuable to everyone, but particularly those going through a divorce.
Much of today’s technology is enabling us, as lawyers, to prove our cases with hard evidence rather than the “he said–she said” we were often limited to in the past, but with everything there are benefits and risks. The key is to be informed. I would commend this article to your reading if you are currently involved in a divorce, expecting to be, or just want to know where we all stand in our rights to privacy with today’s range of technological devices.