Technology and divorce are a beautiful thing … especially for divorce lawyers! Technology and divorce are the perfect match for court room drama. No longer do lawyers have to rely on he said/she said hearsay arguments to convince the judge that they are right. With the advent of emails, text messages, and a whole host of other technological advancements, divorce lawyers now have a veritable arsenal of “hard evidence,” literally at their fingertips.
Here are a list of some of the most common technological mistakes that divorcing people make, and the simple steps you can take to avoid making them yourself.
5 Technology and Divorce Mistakes You DON’T Want to Make
1. Texting in Anger.
Okay. Everyone knows you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse argue from time to time. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be getting divorced. But, knowing you and your spouse had an argument is a lot different from knowing exactly what each of you said in the heat of the moment.
Unless you use one of the new apps that self-destructs texts after a certain period of time, texting leaves a word for word record of your conversation with your ex. All your ex has to do is bring his/her cell phone into court and hand it to the judge, who can then see exactly what you said to her. Those kinds of texts can be devastating in court.
How to Avoid the Problem: Think before you text! Every time. Period. Before you hit “send” on any text (or email) re-read what you wrote. Pretend you are the judge – who doesn’t know you and can take what you wrote completely out of context. If the judge saw your text, what would s/he think?
The bottom line is this: Don’t send any text or email that you wouldn’t want your mother to read.
2. “Butt Dialing” on Your Cell Phone.
We’ve all done it from time to time. You have someone’s number programmed into your cell phone. You put the cell phone in your pocket or in your purse. Then, when you sit down, or when something jams into the cell phone, it dials the last person you called without you knowing it. That person then hears you, even though you don’t realize that they are there or listening.
I don’t need to tell you that, when you are going through a divorce, there are a whole lot of conversations that have that you really don’t want your ex to hear.
How to Avoid the Problem: Be careful with your cell phone! If you are not actively using it, turn it off and keep it locked.
3. Not Changing Passwords During Your Divorce.
I am truly amazed by the number of people who forget to do this for months, or even years, after they decide to divorce. While some people may consciously choose not to change the passwords to joint financial accounts so that they both have access to information while the divorce is pending, the key is that it is a conscious choice. They didn’t simply forget that their spouse had access to the information. They wanted their spouse to have access to that information.
Not changing passwords to your personal email account, on the other hand, is an entirely different discussion.
Think about it. Do you want your spouse to be able to read every email you get while you are going through a divorce? What if your lawyer emails you? What if you send a rambling, emotional email to a friend about how horrible your spouse is, and your spouse reads that? (Although, now that you have read #1, you would never do that, right?)
How to Avoid the Problem: Change your passwords to every online account you have that you don’t want your spouse to have access to any more. Even if you don’t think your spouse knew the password, change it. And, make sure to keep your list of passwords in a safe place where the only one who can see them (including your kids) is you!
4. Forgetting that Your Vehicle Transponder is trackable.
It’s kind of hard to claim that you never left home when your tollway transponder records show that you have been driving all over the state. This may not be an issue for a lot of people, but you might be surprised at how often it matters.
If you usually travel a lot in your job, and you are trying to convince your spouse that work has been really slow and you haven’t been making any money, tollway records that show you driving to the same cities your customers are in can easily show you are lying. Tollway records that show you traveling to the same city every night when you don’t have the kids, and not coming home until the next morning, can make it tough to believe that you are not seeing the new boyfriend/girlfriend who just happens to live in that city.
How to Avoid the Problem: Either be honest about where you are going, or stay off the tollway!
5. Believing that Only Your Friends Can See What is on Your Facebook Page.
You have no idea how many divorce cases have been won (or lost!) because of Facebook! It’s pretty hard to convince a judge that you don’t have a new “special friend” when you have posted pictures on Facebook of the two of you kissing! When you are trying to show the court that you have become clean and sober and can handle unsupervised visits with your children, posting pictures of you partying with your friends is totally insane! If you are trying to prove you can’t work because you need a hip replacement, it is not a good idea to post pictures of yourself after you have hiked to the top of a mountain while on vacation! (Don’t roll your eyes. It happens!)
Facebook is not private! It doesn’t matter how high you have your security settings set. It doesn’t matter that only your friends can see your posts. If any one of those friend shares a post by mistake, you’re sunk!
How to Avoid the Problem: When you are going through a divorce, stay off social media! Or, if you absolutely can’t stay off social media, be uber careful about what you post. Assume that everything (and I mean everything!) that you post can and will be seen by your spouse and his/her lawyer.
Technology and Divorce
We live in a wired world. Unless you live in a cave in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, you can’t escape the effects of technology. But, you can avoid the downside of technology and divorce. You just have to think! And, of course, if you are really being honest about where you are going and what you are doing, and you are careful to not let your anger make you say or do things you regret, you will have nothing to worry about! Right?!