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Protecting personal information during divorce

Photo of Karen Lavin


During marriage, Illinoisans interweave their lives with their spouses. That means joint financial accounts and often sharing of social-media accounts. When the marriage is going well that trust can be a benefit. But when the marriage goes south, that trust can be a source of serious harm.

Just how trusting are couples? Consider a survey done by McAfee. According to the results, almost every person who responded said they trust sensitive information like photos, passwords and other personal content. But while nearly everyone gives broad access during a relationship, not everyone is good about closing off that access later. For instance, many couples share intimate photos. But only a third of survey participants said that they asked their former flames to delete those photos once the relationship had come to an end.

In a perfect world, that trust is not a problem. But Illinoisans do not live a perfect world. They live in a messy world, one involving emotions like anger and revenge. When these emotions run up against personal information, Illinoisans can get burned.

Fortunately, much of these issues can be minimized before they have a chance to come to pass. That starts with how the breakup goes. If it is loud and explosive, things will happen that both people regret. But the couple has other options. They can choose friendlier forms of divorce like mediation, arbitration or collaborative divorce. These options seek to resolve the divorce in an amicable way that can reduce long-term hard feelings.

But even if amicability has long since ceased being an option, there are other things to be done. For instance, Illinoisans should close out all joint accounts and create new ones in their name only. Doing so prevents the other spouse from draining those accounts or racking up huge credit card bills that will become the responsibility of both spouses to pay.

Illinoisans will also want to change all of their passwords, pin numbers and the like. Use new ones that will be difficult for your soon-to-be ex to guess.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorcing? Protect Your Finances Personal Data," Jason Alderman, accessed on Aug. 4, 2015

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