Divorce In The Digital Age: Top 10 Tech Pitfalls by Sherri Donovan
Posting photos on social media, like Facebook and Instagram, that will compromise your standing as a responsible parent. Photos that show you partying are a problem. Postings on social media are being used against parents in custody disputes and are permitted as evidence. Many divorce professional are advising spouses in a divorce to stop using certain websites completely.
Sending sexual messages by text, tweet, and email that if discovered (and they usually are) will provoke your spouse or inflame the delicate and fragile family dynamics; Cyber-stalking your spouse or ex by intercepting or forwarding private emails, changing passwords, creating false messages or profiles, using spyware or GPS tracking devices is a form of domestic violence and may be criminal. Do not use spy-phones that read other people’s call logs and e-mails or websites like “Formspirng”, “Intellius” and “Mysocial 24X7” that are used for GPS and camera surveillance.
Engaging in an internet campaign against your spouse or ex or even disparaging your ex on social media or in emails can demonstrate a failure to cooperate with the other parent. Failure to cooperate with the other parent is one of the main reasons parents lose parenting time and decision-making authority concerning their children. Distributing photos, videos, personal information that can damage your spouse’s public image or employment is not smart. Ignoring the importance of cyber security.
Check with a good IT professional or computer forensic expert about proper password, encryption, and detection of personal and financial internet damage. Seek an order of protection if necessary to protect yourself from cyber abuse. Using your child’s computer or a family computer for internet dating, pornography or engaging in any digital communication you would not want your child to find. Children are computer savvy and intentionally or unintentionally they will be exposed to what you post on the internet. Not monitoring your child’s unhealthy use of the virtual world. Be aware of sexting with strangers, cyber-bullying, chatrooms with adults, and creating websites and postings that compromise your child’s educational and career. Teach your child about the permanency of data. Encourage high “touch” not just high-tech. Affection, sports, meals and cultural activities with families and friends are essential. Do not send your lawyer documents and emails between your spouse and his/her attorney. Such information is confidential.
If your lawyer receives such confidential information, she/he may have a duty to notify your spouse’s counsel and/or the court. Your lawyer may seek to withdraw from your case. Your lawyer could face disciplinary action if he/she used the confidential information in a legal matter without disclosure.
Not establishing the proper methods of virtual communication with your divorce professionals. Are e-mails permitted at all hours of the night? Ask your divorce professionals how often they check and respond to e-mails, and if text messaging is permitted. Many divorce professionals are not comfortable connecting with clients on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Do not seek to “friend” or connect with your divorce team on social media sites without checking their policies first. Not recognizing the positive uses of the internet during a divorce. Regular skype, facetime and other methods of video chatting can enhance the relationship between a child and a geographically distant parent or grandparents.
There are apps that help calculate child support and maintenance. Software is available that assists parents and children with post-divorce communication, calendars, scheduling, coordination between two households and the payment of children’s expenses. Bottom line: Use your tech devices wisely.
Sherri Donovan has been selected in the Top 10 Family Lawyers in the country. She also received the 2014 Client Satisfaction Award from the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys. Ms. Donovan is the owner of Sherri Donovan & Associates, PC., the Family Center for nearly thirty years in New York City. Sherri Donovan is also a mediator, collaborative practitioner, parent coordinator, professor of forensic psychology and family law.