Ashley, our barn cat, is very upset to have her name associated with this kind of scandal.
This seemed like an apt post following CiCi’s miniseries on the The 7 Deadly (Tech) Sins of Divorce. There’s a huge scandal right now revolving around precisely what you shouldn’t do BEFORE getting divorced.
I remember being shocked when I first found out about Ashley Madison’s business. I shouldn’t have been, since you can find anything on the internet. I know, as do all divorce lawyers, that certain folks will cheat, and they will cheat serially throughout their marriages. But there was just something uber-contrived about a site for people who wanted to cheat to find people with whom to cheat. Especially one that claims it has 37 million members! I mean, really, if you can’t find your own mistress, that’s just plain lazy.
And now they’re in deep trouble. Ashley has been hacked. Some of her clientele has been outed, including a man from Massachusetts‘ own town of Brockton! At our divorce group lunch there was a not-entirely-humorous suggestion that we check the names of parties against the published names of Ashley’s clientele. While most judges don’t pay a lot of attention to a party having had an affair, they do look at the cost of the affair, and if affairs were a pattern during the marriage as opposed to a symptom that the marriage is ending. The forethought and deliberation that it takes to hire a service, create a profile and actively seek to find someone who wants to cheat might well be enough to focus the judge’s attention on behavior.
In any case, if I have one ironclad piece of advice it would be: “Don’t cheat!” It will cost you. Not so much in what the court does or doesn’t do, but in how you will hurt your spouse and how that pain will translate into much, much higher legal fees. Although nothing has happened with the hackers’ list of names and information since the scandal first broke, there could be a steep little spike in divorce cases were that list to be leaked.
Look twice before you click send!
In my previous post, The 7 Deadly (Tech) Sins of Divorce – Part 1, we discussed the importance of protecting email accounts and passwords, not reading your spouse’s email and not recording anything without informing them. Here are the remaining four sins to avoid!
4. Sharing Too Much on Social Media
I frequently remind clients not to put in writing or, God forbid, take a picture of anything they don’t want handed to the Judge in an open courtroom packed with interested listeners. The same rule holds true for social media. In a perfect world (we are talking about my perfect world here) a divorcing client would not involve themselves in any kind of social media sharing for the duration of the proceedings. They’d shut down their old accounts and they wouldn’t open new ones. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. People insist on keeping their Facebook accounts and posting to Instagram. If this is you, be very cautious. If you keep these accounts active, please do not denigrate your spouse. If it’s public information, the opposing attorney will find and use it against you.
Such a simple tool capable of creating such great headaches for divorce cases.
For anyone involved in a divorce there are always pitfalls to be avoided, no matter where you are in the process. Some of the pitfalls are obvious, others less so. Today we’ll discuss the first three in a set of seven areas of technology to approach with caution. Apologies for the dramatic title.
1. Your Email Is Not Secure
Virtually everyone has an email address, either at home or at work, so nearly everyone will be impacted by many of the problems that can come from that. If you are divorcing and you have an email account, stop reading this post and go set up a new account. Then come back and finish reading. Create a new Gmail or Outlook account that you can use exclusively for personal communications such as those about your divorce, with your lawyer, questions for the accountant, etc. If you have an account you can’t get rid of, such as a work email or an AOL email you’ve had for 15 years, change the password right away.