by Yueh-Mei Kim Nutter and Kyle Morgan
Part I of this article discussed the Electronic Do’s and Don’ts regarding online passwords and social media during divorce. As stated in Part I, data from these online platforms can be “discovered” in court and possibly be used against you. Therefore, if you find yourself involved in a family law related dispute, consider carefully the list of Do’s and Don’ts for Technology and Divorce in Part II below.
Any text message can be saved without your knowledge. Cellular carriers are now capturing the contents of text message and storing them in the cloud, making them recoverable through subpoenas. Even mobile forensics may be able to recover deleted text messages that can be obtained in court through subpoenas.
Therefore, during a family law case, it is important to never send a text message you would not want to a judge to read aloud in open court. Also, save and print all text messages that may be of value to use against your spouse in a pending case. Never rely on your phone or the cloud to automatically keep them. Further, if you and your spouse are on the same phone plan, it is time to separate the accounts. This will protect the cross-sharing of phone records by separating billing.
Don’t forget that all cell phones now have location services that track your every moment. Most spouses also share locations through apps such as Find My Friends. It is important to make sure location services are disabled on your cell phone, iPad and other devices and to stop sharing your location with your spouse. Enable your GPS location to use for directions and then disable your location upon the arrival at your destination. Check your children’s cell phones for location services as well.
Children’s online accounts and devices present a potential tricky challenge to parents during a divorce. A child’s cell phone it is likely tied to a parent’s already existing mobile network account. This means that a spouse can access that network through the child’s cell phone. Parents should communicate with each other and address who owns the account and what that means for the parent that does not.
Parents should also consider parental controls on a child’s device. Parents should communicate with each other and address who controls the parental controls on the child’s devices. Parents need to be on the same page with what websites and apps the child is permitted to use.
It is important for both parents to have all usernames and passwords for all of their children’s devices and accounts. That way, parents are constantly on the same page when it comes to what their child is consuming on the internet, who they are friends with on social media, and what they are posting online. Lastly, regarding their children’s social media, both parents should be friends with their children on Facebook and should follow their children on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc.
Once a family law case has been filed or is about to get filed, you may not have access to the same electronic records you did before the dispute started. Your spouse may have already changed passwords to online bank accounts, insurance policies, and business accounts. Therefore, it is important to make a list of all relevant online accounts you have access to and gather as much information you can.
It is recommended that you find a safe storage space such as an external hard drive or a cloud based storage service such as DropBox, and download and save all text messages, emails, photographs, business records, insurance policies, banking records and other important documents you have access to.
Yueh-Mei Kim Nutter is Partner in Brinkley Morgan’s Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices. She is a Florida Bar board certified specialist in Marital and Family Law, concentrating her practice in the areas of family law, guardianships, and probate and estate litigation.
Kyle Morgan is an attorney in Brinkley Morgan’s Fort Lauderdale office. He focuses his practice in the areas of marital and family law, corporate law and business development.
Find out more about Brinkley Morgan, Attorneys at Law.