Almost all of us have some sort of digital footprint – an online presence through digital files or social media profiles. Whether you store your data and files in an online storage cloud or a thumb drive, your digital information may have a huge impact on your divorce case.
Online information about you or your spouse can be both a great support and serious hinderance to the outcome of your case. While many social media sites offer users privacy controls, it can be difficult to remove pictures, videos and written comments, and posting anything on the internet is far from private. If your case involves serious offenses such as drug use, harassment, domestic abuse or infidelity, electronic information could be important to seeking justice and protection for your children. It can also be helpful when determining the best time-sharing outcome.
It is important to understand that any information posted about or by you can be used against you throughout your divorce. Here are a few tips to help protect yourself during your case:
Be transparent and honest with your attorney about any information that may hinder your case. The sooner your attorney understands the relevance of said information, the better they will be able to help you navigate the possible consequences.
If you think electronic information about your spouse is particularly relevant to your case, let your attorney know. You’ll have to request said information through a process called discovery.
Be particularly careful with what you post online throughout the pendency of your case. Don’t post anything that could be used to damage your image or case.
It may be in your best interest to password protect any devices you have. If they already utilize a password feature, consider changing your password to protect your information from your spouse. Consider using the two-factor-authentication feature of your existing devices to add another layer of protection.
If you’re sharing a home with your spouse throughout your case, it may be time to ditch the shared computers or devices and consolidate your personal information. If possible, remove any copies of your information from shared devices and purchase new devices for your personal use only.
Know that most, if not all, digital information carries a timestamp. Files, pictures, videos and other electronic data can easily be dated (sometimes even down to the second) and this may impact your case and any relevant timelines.
Consider protecting your devices and information in other ways as well. In the last decade, it’s become increasingly important to install protection software to guard against attempts to steal your information. Spyware and other software that allow interested parties to steal your data could put you at risk in your divorce case.
If you have to electronically correspond with your spouse or other relevant party in your case, ask your lawyer to review your communication before you send it. They will be able to advise you on your best course of action when communicating with your spouse.
It’s also important to note that there are legal measures that can be taken to stop you or your spouse from erasing compromising posts or emails both online and in digital storage devices. Spoliation is a term used to refer to an order or request that stops or prevents the deletion of evidence that could be vital to a case. In a divorce case, this step usually occurs during the discovery process and has become increasingly more common in the last 10 years.
The Kendrick Law Group is dedicated to providing quality legal counsel through the duration of your case. Call today to schedule your consultation and find out how our experienced attorneys can help you.