Understanding Cyberstalking and Divorce

JACKSON, Mississippi. Modern technology is incredibly powerful. It can pinpoint where we are in the world with GPS. We use our phones to pay bills, to get us from point A to point B, and to stay in touch with family and friends. Yet, these very tools that can improve our lives can sometimes be used against us. Many married couples share their digital lives. They share phone plans, share passwords, and they may share their locations on their phones. If you are in the process of getting divorced, your ex could use access to these accounts to make your life very difficult and even use this technology to stalk you. What can you do to protect yourself? According to NPR, the first step you should take is to change all your passwords and to change your password protection questions. Personal password protection questions often ask questions like your mother’s maiden name, your parent’s place of birth, or your first pet’s name—questions that a prying ex would likely know. Instead, one divorce lawyer speaking to NPR recommended that you provide your own private answers to these questions that only you would know; treat these questions like passwords in themselves. Next, consider any shared and sensitive accounts you might have. Share a Facebook page? Share email? Now might be the time to divorce your accounts. Stalking can be emotionally traumatizing. According to the Stalking Resource Center, stalking includes unwanted monitoring of your phone or computer use, using GPS or other technology to track your movements, or using a private investigator or online search of public records to gain information about you. Securing your accounts is especially important if you plan to speak to a divorce lawyer. Any information your ex has could be used against you in court. Have a new boyfriend or girlfriend and went out to dinner? If your ex finds out, this can impact your divorce settlement. (Word to the wise: avoid seeing anyone until after your divorce is finalized.) If you believe your ex is cheating, you might be tempted to install spyware. But most experts say you should avoid the temptation to do so. In many cases, installing spyware without the other person is illegal and could harm your divorce case rather than help it. Furthermore, any information you gain through this method may not be admissible in court. However, if you and your former partner share a phone account, share data, or share locations, any information you gain because you share this information willfully may be admissible in court. Furthermore, some experts say that tracking shared property, like a computer or car may be legal. However, expect your divorce lawyer to be very cautious when handling any evidence gathered through digital means. A qualified lawyer will not want to submit evidence gathered illegally, because that could subject you and your lawyer to criminal charges. Malouf & Malouf are divorce lawyers in Jackson, Mississippi who work with a range of clients. If you believe you may be cyberstalked by your ex, your attorney may be able to help you protect your rights—and your privacy. In some extreme cases, individuals might choose to purchase a new computer or phone, particularly if your ex has been abusive. Protect your rights today. Contact a divorce lawyer to assist you if you believe you may be a victim of cyberstalking.   Malouf & Malouf, PLLC 501 E Capitol St. Jackson, MS 39201 Phone Number: (601) 522-2222
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