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In your divorce, have you considered your online accounts?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2019 | property division | 0 comments

There is a great deal to be decided in a divorce, from property division to child custody and support. While you’re working toward a resolution, have you considered how you’ll divide your social media and entertainment accounts?

It may seem like a trivial concern compared to some divorce-related issues, but real harm can come of leaving these accounts as they are. You have a lot invested in your Spotify, Netflix and Instagram accounts, so you’ll want to keep using them. But if your ex has the passwords, you could be in for a battle.

“Part of getting over someone is being able to listen to your jams in the shower and maybe cry or something like that,” pointed out one young woman who shared a streaming music account with her ex-boyfriend. She had hoped she would be able to listen to her jams uninterrupted, but her ex kept overriding her requests with his own.

Also, many accounts allow the user to make purchases. Even games allow in-game buying. If you have shared passwords, your ex could easily run up a bill.

Your ex might be planning to change the password to your accounts after the divorce — or they might already have changed them. If not challenged during the divorce process, that could cost you years of accumulated perks, music playlists, movie watching histories, recommendations and online friends.

The battle can be more serious yet. If your divorcing spouse has boundary issues, they may be able to use certain accounts to keep track of your location and activities.

There are legal and practical risks with shared passwords

Have you considered the possibility that your ex could use your accounts to impersonate you — or engage in identity theft? Does your divorcing spouse have the password to your email account? Your bank account?

And, if you’re using your ex’s account, you could run into legal trouble if they pull their authorization. Under some legal theories, using someone else’s login and password without their consent amounts to a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Be careful about taking over shared digital accounts

Once a divorce has been initiated, courts generally expect you to maintain the status quo as much as possible. In other words, you shouldn’t take out new debt or sell off any shared assets.

The same principle applies to any accounts you hold in common. You can negotiate changes to your shared property, but you should be careful about making decisions that could be considered overreaching. Before you change that password, discuss the matter with your divorce attorney.