For most folks the decision to separate is hard, and the reality of what separation means can be harder. One of the most important aspects of separating is privacy. Whether you stay in the marital home or get your own new home, among your first steps should be protecting your privacy. Following are the first of several tips I have for protecting your privacy when separating.
1. If you are staying in your home, change the locks as soon as your spouse moves out. Reprogram the alarm system (if you have one) to a new code. Also, contact your alarm company to make sure that they will not let your spouse reprogram it again. Get the garage door opener back and reprogram the garage code. Make sure that you have all the keys to the vehicles that you drive.
2. Immediately, if not sooner, change ALL your passwords. This applies to your email, any online shopping sites, any online business accounts, retirement accounts, bank accounts, credit cards, etc. Don’t forget to change the password to your smartphone or any other electronic devices. If you had not utilized the password function on these gadgets before, you absolutely should now. If your husband is the cell phone owner or manages the account, you should consider switching to a new plan or consulting your carrier to see how private you can make the information. Not only calls made, but texts as well, may be open to access by the account holder.
This is also the time to consider whether or not your spouse has put spyware on your equipment or GPS on your vehicle. If you have any reason for concern, you need to have them all checked.
Also be sure to change your privacy settings if you use Facebook or Twitter and the like. In fact, it’s a good idea to stay off these internet sites while divorcing.
3. Make sure you have separate bank accounts – checking as well as savings. It is better to do this in a different banking institution than the one used for your main marital banking. Also be sure to get your own credit card. If there is a problem with your spouse abusing credit cards, be sure to formally remove your name from all of the joint accounts and clarify with the card company that you will not be liable for future charges. I think it is also a good idea to pull a credit report so that you can be sure there aren’t any nasty surprises lurking out there. That isn’t exactly a privacy issue but I’m on a roll here!
Stay tuned for additional tips in next week’s post.