When Divorce and Technology Intersect
The process of separating from a spouse and seeking a dissolution of marriage is often overwhelming. This is especially true in situations where one unsuspecting spouse has been abruptly served divorce papers. We often see clients overlook the following three issues when going through their divorce cases:
Changing passwords to personal online accounts:
- A competent divorce attorney will advise a client to act civilly towards his or her soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, it is also important for litigants to understand that the divorce process is a legal process. It is unwise to allow an adversary to have unlimited access to personal e-mail accounts or bank accounts. This is especially true in divorce cases where emotions are high or where one party has had financial control over the other party. By changing a personal e-mail account password or a personal bank account password, a spouse is preventing future quarrels and regaining control of his or her life.
- It is also important to have a secure e-mail account if a spouse is going to communicate with his or her family law attorney regarding the dissolution. Those e-mail exchanges between a spouse and his or her attorney are confidential communications and are entitled to attorney-client privilege.
- Furthermore, snooping on a spouse’s personal e-mails may lead to unnecessary hurt feelings at a time when emotions are already raw. It is wise to keep the divorce process as civil as possible and to avoid retaliation, for a number of good reasons including for the sake of children involved.
Planning around cell phone “family plans”:
- The lure of having a “family plans” becomes problematic once a family unit separates into two. Companies often provide great financial incentives for persons who sign up for a “family plan,” and removing one person from this bundled plan can increase the monthly cost of cell phone services. This is only one of the many discussions to be had in developing a resolution once the divorce is final. Children who are of age to have a personal cell phone often view this device as their lifeline, their connection to the outside world. Divorcing parents need to take into account their children’s needs when they plan for the family’s new post-divorce cell phone contracts. During and after a divorce is a critical time to address the children’s needs for access to their parents and to their friends.
- Some spouses have a seemingly “friendly” divorce where the parties feel there is no need to divide the “family plan.” That, however, is not a likely to be a long range solution.
- For the majority of divorces, both parties are in disagreement about a plethora of issues. When one party is trying to sever ties with his or her soon-to-be ex, letting the ex have “control” over a cell phone bill can lead to further angst and upset.
E-mail and text messaging with your soon-to-be ex:
- Many people going through a divorce find speaking to their soon-to-be ex-spouses to be a trying task. This is why many divorcing couples avoid this dreaded communication at all costs. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that technology, while it might make life easier in the short-term, can end up being used in the courtroom. As we recommended in Five Things Not To Do During Your Divorce, avoid unnecessary e-mail and text message communication with the other party. Any hateful, spiteful, or just aggravated e-mail or text message has the potential to end up being used by an adversary in the divorce case. When both spouses are cordial to each other and find it easier to get business done by e-mail, continuing to use the process that best works for both spouses is ideal. If, however, a party finds herself getting angry every time she checks her e-mail because her spouse has sent demanding messages, it is probably best that all written communication is kept to a minimum.
If you or someone you know is contemplating separating from a spouse, contact The Law Offices of Kathleen E. Shaul at 314.499.1476 to discuss your case and schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Missouri divorce attorney.