With the expansion of the digital world your divorce case now transcends the everyday world of time and space that we inhabit on a daily basis.
Technology gives us so much and at the same time can pose a potential threat to your safety and well being. Even if you are not tech-savvy or a person that spends a great deal of time online there are still tips and advice that will be offered to you in this blog post that can potentially be of great help to you and your case.
What do you and your spouse share in terms of your digital footprint(s)?
Speaking from personal experience my wife and I share numerous online accounts and by necessity, each knows the single password to each of those accounts. There are also multiple websites that each of us accesses on a weekly or even daily basis that the other does not have an account with but we know the passwords that are used on the other’s accounts. Think about email, utility providers, social media and the list goes on and on. It is not just the information and accounts that we share with our spouses that leaves us susceptible to our information being utilized in ways that we did not intend them to be.
The other point I wanted to make on this subject is that even if you don’t know your spouse’s password for an account or website, you likely know the three, two or even the one password that he or she uses to grant them access to all of their online resources. It is easy enough to poke around and figure out all their access codes and passwords without them even knowing it. This presents a whole new level of security concerns for you and your spouse.
How to treat your digital security when divorce is on the horizon
Very rarely do potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC tell me that the divorce that their spouse filed against him or her came completely out of the blue. There are usually warning signs or even outright discussions on divorce the precede the actual hiring of an attorney and filing of the case in the county where you reside.
If you believe that either you or your spouse will be filing for a divorce in the coming weeks, now is a good time to begin to safeguard the personal information that you have online and that your spouse has access to. As we noted in the prior section to this blog post it is possible that your spouse can access even the information that you have not allowed him or her direct access to.
All it takes is a bit of free time and some investigative know-how. If your spouse is the kind of person who can figure out the backstory of every person that he or she is Facebook friends with then don’t think for a second he or she couldn’t figure out your Facebook password.
Begin by changing passwords for all of your accounts. I don’t mean changing a numeral here or there and leaving everything else the same. Change your passwords and give yourself a unique access code for each website. If somehow your spouse were to try and access a website by figuring out one password that doesn’t mean that he or she should be able to access all of your websites with the same password.
A second tip that I would provide to you all is to secure any bank accounts that you have online access. While your temporary or standing orders likely will forbid both you and your spouse from any malfeasance associated with bank accounts, that doesn’t mean that your spouse will be as honest as you.
Furthermore, if your spouse does drain a bank account and you are able to hold him or her accountable that still means the money isn’t there for a period of time. At the very least this is an annoyance for you to have to put up with.
The power of gathering your financial documents ahead of time
You need to be able to protect yourself and your children by identifying what your assets and debts are at the very least. Log into your bank accounts online and get an idea of what your balances are and what transactions have recently taken place. This should be a regular practice of yours but if it isn’t then you should start doing so now. Take inventory of what is in each account.
Next, I recommend accessing a copy of your credit report (free to do once a year) and see what accounts are open in your name. If there are any that do not ring a bell contact each of them and inquire about when they were opened. It may be that your spouse utilized your information to take on debt that you are not even aware of. It is best to learn about this now rather than to do so at the end of your divorce. This allows you to take action early and often to minimize any negative effects on your life and ensure that your spouse is held accountable for their misdeeds.
From my experiences as a practicing family law attorney, it is those people who do not learn from early mistakes in their case that end up being severely hurt by those mistakes as their cases progress. What’s worse is those that don’t even both to learn the risks of having a large digital footprint. You absolutely need to protect yourself in order to avoid mistakes that can impact your case.
Dealing with requests for financial information from your spouse
It is customary in many divorces to have your spouse submit requests for documents and information in the form of discovery requests. You and your attorney will likely do the same. Both sides will then have an opportunity to learn important information that can influence strategy in your divorce. You will likely become aware of these discovery requests as your attorney emails or calls you requesting more documents that you knew even existed in the entire world. It can be overwhelming to have a deadline attached to these requests.
Get ahead of the game by collecting important financial information- bank account statements, retirement account documents, tax returns, pension plans, etc.- ahead of time. You now know that you will have to submit them to someone (it could be your attorney) so go ahead and get them organized now so that you are not rushed in getting them out. This snapshot of your finances could allow your attorney to prevent your spouse from shielding income that could be used to pay spousal maintenance or child support.
It is critical also for your court to know what sort of income you earn, what your monthly bills look like and what your future costs associated with your family may look like. If you are the spouse that does not handle the bills or finances it is especially important that you get access to the information that you can, while you can. Suppose that your spouse suddenly changes a password without you knowing. You will be left in the dark and will have to rely on him or her to gain access to this information moving forward.
Remember that this is another step in the divorce process. If you take things piece by piece and are diligent about the requests of your attorney you will both save yourself time and stress and can also benefit your case a great deal.
How to best collect information and documents in conjunction with your divorce- tomorrow’s blog post topic
We will provide you with more tips and tricks when it comes to collecting valuable information and documentation for your divorce in tomorrow’s blog post.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about today’s subject matter or any other in family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with a licensed family law attorney.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Methods of Service Including Facebook in a Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Fake Emails and Electronic Evidence
- Email essentials for effective communication with your ex-spouse
- Texas Divorce and Virtual Parenting or Electronic Access to Children
- Dos and Don'ts Regarding Electronic Communications in a Texas Divorce
- What does a Default Judgment Mean in a Texas Divorce?
- Do I have to bring Evidence to a Default Judgment Hearing in Texas?
- How to Divorce Your Spouse in Texas When Their Whereabouts are Unknown
- Can I get a divorce even if my spouse lives in another country?
- Getting divorced in Texas when you cannot locate your spouse
- I have been served with Divorce Papers - What do I do now in Texas?
- What Happens if my Ex-Spouse Refuses to Sign the Final Decree of Divorce Revisited
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.