Electronic Data and Divorce: What You Should Know (Part 1)

electronic data provides a lot of info that could harm your case during a divorce.


We live in a different age to the one our parents experienced. In our parent’s era, evidence in a divorce may have consisted of testimony from witnesses, and perhaps photographs taken by a private investigator. Nowadays, divorce court regularly sees the contents of email accounts, an assortment of social media pictures, and a host of other electronic data. So what does that mean for you?


When you think about it, your smartphone, tablet and laptop are the filing cabinets of the modern world. We no longer keep a secret lover‘s phone number on a cocktail napkin in your jacket pocket, or a hotel receipt in our purses. Today’s hotel receipts arrive as email confirmations, and numbers are all stored in our phones. So it makes sense that, when gathering evidence to present to the court during a divorce, the first place your soon-to-be-ex’s attorneys will look is your electronic data.


What this means for you is that if a divorce is looming on the horizon, you are going to need to double lock your metaphorical filing cabinets, and make sure that you’ve cleaned out your metaphorical pockets and purses. By that, we mean that you will need to consider ALL of your online activity and social media accounts as possible sources of information that can be used against you, and act accordingly.

  1. Use social media sparingly.

Some people chose to stop posting all together and temporarily deactivate their accounts. However, for those of you who want to keep posting and interacting, we recommend that you are very careful about what you post. Don’t make references to the divorce in any way. Also, do not post anything that pertains to relationships, traveling, purchases or money.


  1. Change all of your passwords!

Even if your spouse didn’t have access to that particular account that you know of, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Email, Facebook, Twitter, the passcodes on your cell phone, computer and tablet. Even your online banking passwords. Anything you access on a regular basis needs to be changed. DO NOT, however, change passwords on joint accounts, as this will lock your spouse out of something that they may need access to, and this could look very bad for you.


  1. Separate yourself from all shared accounts.

The issue of joint accounts brings us to our next issue – the importance of separating yourself from all joint accounts. Whether it’s a shared bank account, a shared social media account, or a shared cloud storage account, it’s important that you make copies of all of the information you want to keep, and create a new account for yourself. With regard to banking, you should set up a new bank account in just your name, but DO NOT empty out your joint accounts! The court does not look kindly on one individual taking all of a married couple’s financial assets without warning or permission.


Join us next time as we look at the remaining items on our list of what you need to be aware of during divorce in the electronic age. Until then, if you are considering divorce in Michigan, and aren’t sure what the step step looks like, come in and talk to our experienced family law attorneys. We have been helping people all over mid-Michigan through their divorces, and on to better futures. Call us today at 517-886-1000. We are here to help you.