How can I protect myself online after separation?

How can I protect myself online after separation? 10 May 2021

When people separate, some of the biggest concerns are usually finding alternative accommodation, negotiating initial parenting arrangements and sorting out the finances. It can be too easy to focus on the big tasks that need to be completed and let some of the smaller tasks fall by the wayside, especially in a very emotional and stressful time. Many people forget to consider the important question of: “how can I protect myself online after separation?”.

Living in the digital age, it’s quite common for couples to share online accounts and email addresses during a relationship. It’s also very common that couples will share a number of passwords, such as those containing the names of their pets or children, or know or have access to the unique passwords that each other regularly use.

Where do I start to protect myself online?

One of the first things you should do at separation is think about the accounts that you share with your ex-partner or your own accounts that your ex-partner may have access to. You need to consider who will retain the shared accounts, whether you need to create new accounts of your own, and how to stop your ex-partner from accessing your accounts that you would now like to keep private.

It is important that you change the passwords to any sole accounts that you do not want your ex-partner to be able to access as soon as possible, using a strong password that you have never used before and that your ex-partner will be unlikely to guess.

It is also important to remember that you may have left your accounts logged in on multiple devices, including devices that you have left behind or that your ex-partner has taken with them. Most online accounts allow you to log off from every device when you re-set your password, and this is an important step to take.

Also consider what accounts may be linked to other accounts. For example, it will not help to re-set your Facebook password if the recovery email linked to your Facebook account is a shared email with your ex-partner.

protecting yourself online after separation

What could happen if I don’t separate myself from my ex-partner digitally?

The main issue of failing to protect yourself online after separation is the potential for your ex-partner to breach your privacy. This could be your ex-partner reading your Facebook messages with friends or a new partner. Or it could be your ex-partner reading confidential emails and correspondence that you have with your lawyer, which could impact any negotiations or court proceedings.

Aside from losing your privacy, failing to update accounts can have financial consequences too. We’ve had numerous clients report that their ex-partner has made purchases on an eBay account linked to their credit card, or discover they have been paying for their ex-partner’s Netflix subscription left logged in on the old joint tv.

Common shared accounts to consider

The common accounts you need to consider are:

  • Email
  • Zoom, Skype etc
  • Online banking
  • Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc
  • Netflix, Stan, Disney+ etc
  • Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Audible etc
  • Uber, UberEats, MenuLog etc
  • Woolworths, Coles, eBay, Amazon etc
  • Shared iCloud accounts
  • Shared ‘nanny cams’ or ‘pet cams’
  • eToll tags
  • Find My Friends
  • Shared Calendars and To-do lists
  • Any other family sharing apps

If you or someone you know is thinking of separating and would like to discuss and develop a detailed separation plan, Contact Us on (02) 4943 3988 to speak with one of our family lawyers. We have years of experience helping people with their family law needs throughout the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region.

This blog was written by Associate,
 Jessica Benson
Jessica practises in the areas of Family Law, Wills & Estate Planning,
Deceased Estates and Will disputes

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