Step 4 in Preparing for Divorce: Keeping Your Divorce Private
By: Adrienne Rothstein Grace
Last Update: October 26, 2016
I once had a client come to me before having the “big conversation” with her husband. She wanted to understand her options, the process, and potential outcomes. She wanted to do her "homework" early. There were some privacy guidelines I had her follow, which can help anyone going through a divorce.
Today, more than ever, safeguarding our privacy is not only prudent – it is downright necessary. But we don't necessarily consider the importance of protecting our privacy from those closest to us. As you go through your divorce process however, sometimes even those closest to us will look for information in ways you never considered. So before you embark on even just the conversation, be prepared:
- For your private correspondence and bank statements, set up a new mailing address. Rent a post office box if you can, or engage a trusted friend or family member to receive your mail.
- Use terms that are not familiar or immediately recognizable when setting up a new email account. Have some fun with your new account name. For example, try something positive, like: 4Good*Days; NewChoices!4me; *MyNewLife1$; Fit&Fabulous45.
- Avoid passwords you have used before and may have shared with your partner. Choose entirely new passwords and follow the guidelines for more secure choices: capitalized and lower case letters, numbers that are not your birthdate or address, and when permitted – use symbols. Don’t write them down and leave them where they might be easily found.
- Since email messages at your work can legally be monitored by your supervisors, it's generally not a good idea to use your work computer for these communications. It’s also good to have somewhere to go where you don’t have to think about your personal issues. Most public libraries will allow you to use their computers for free.
- Put a password on your phone so your call history and text messages cannot be accessed without it. As above, don’t use your birthday, kid’s birthdays, or address number as your password. Choose something new. Then you can post your list of new accounts and passwords in your phone.
- Disable the GPS on your cellphone to avoid having your movements tracked. Your phone carrier can walk you through this process. And speaking of GPS, delete the addresses you enter into your car GPS system. You don't need to have your history of locations recorded.
- You may wish to maintain a record of emails and texts from your soon-to-be ex, especially if there are comments relating to children’s issues or items that could be classified as abuse. Document, document, document. You can play messages into a recorder to keep them, but off your phone. You can send the texts to your email account and print them. Inflammatory emails should be shared with your attorney. Keep in mind that you don’t have to respond to every text or message, especially when you find them upsetting.
Safeguarding your privacy now can secure a private new future for you. Always remember the adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"! It is certainly always easier to safeguard your privacy than it ever is to try and regain your privacy.
If ever you feel your privacy has been compromised, take care immediately to make changes to your security protocol. You may have forgotten to change one account's login information – but that does not mean that all of your privacy is now public. Go through careful steps to re-configure all of your login and protected resources should any one account or information source be compromised.
A final note on privacy: our private lives can only remain private if we do not share information that should be held in confidence. While your divorce will no doubt leave you wanting to talk to, vent to, or seek advice from a friend, be careful of who you select as a confidant. Pick someone (family is usually best) who would truly never divulge your secrets.
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