January has long been reported as seeing an increase in new divorce enquiries following the festive period and the welcoming of a new year.
In recent years, technology has further advanced with terms like AI, chatbots and portals becoming commonplace. Family Law has also seen some significant changes with the introduction of the No Fault online divorce process, remote hearings and the courts moving to a mainly paperless system.
Technology has been embraced however for all of the positive aspects in modernising the divorce process. It also presents challenges for divorcing couples.
Many of us are heavily reliant on technology in our everyday lives. As somebody who wears a smart watch, carries 2 phones, a laptop and even the dog has a tracker, I am guilty of running my life with the assistance of technology. Therefore, similarly our lives can easily become digitally joined with our spouses and partners. Many clients have not considered the ways their digital lives are joined with their ex-partner, or how this information could be used against them either during a divorce, children proceedings or at any point in the future.
It is essential that separating parties take steps to protect themselves, their privacy and their personal information, including their online presence.
1. Use additional authentication – Where possible add 2 factor authentication to accounts that offer this facility or use a authentication app
2. Change your passwords – including email, social media, phone, online banking/payments platforms, utility accounts in your name and any apps. As your partner will likely know you very well, ensure that you choose a password that they cannot guess.
3. Remove autocomplete – Turn off any autocomplete or ‘remember me’ functions on all web browsers you use.
4. Set up a new email address – this can be used for corresponding with your lawyer to avoid any access by your former partner and also this will assist in keeping all correspondence about your divorce in one place for ease of reference.
5. Remove automatic syncing of devices – This should be turned off to ensure that information including photographs, documents or data stored remotely are no longer automatically uploaded to any shared accounts or devices.
6. Disable Find my Phone or Similar Apps
7. Personal electronic documents – remove your personal electronic documents and files from any shared devices and disable any shared calendars.
8. Apps – Any unused or unfamiliar apps on mobile telephones, laptops or tablets should be deleted
9. Change passwords for home technology – If your partner has moved out of the family home or you live at a different address but you have retained some of the household technology you should change the passwords. Some examples being the Wi-Fi router, video doorbell, smart speaker, pet trackers and CCTV systems.
10. Social media access
• review all privacy settings
• consider making your photographs and posts private including considering reviewing friends or restricting access to certain information.
• Speak with your friends and family and ask them not to post anything about you, your relationship, your ex-partner or your children on their social media accounts
• Do not post anything about your separation or any legal proceedings on social media as such posts will regularly be provided in court proceedings and can be unhelpful. Also such posts can in some cases be seen by a parties children and this can be harmful and upsetting for them
• Where you have children try to agree with your ex-partner what will and will not be shared about the children publicly. Where this is agreed at the outset, it can avoid or reduce the possibility of disagreements in the future.
At our initial meeting, Raworths family law team will discuss all your options with you in relation to your divorce, finances and children however, we will also advise you how best to digitally separate. Undertaking these steps from the outset will give you some peace of mind in knowing that you have done all that you can to secure your digital data.
Published on 2 January 2024