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Digital Privacy and Social Media During a Divorce

In the digital world that we now live in, there are millions of people who have had their privacy attacked. And while there are things that can be done when one person invades another’s privacy, the situation is tricky when a divorce is involved. So how can individuals protect their privacy online and in the digital world while going through a divorce? When it comes to things like emails, texts, and social media profiles, the law is not always clear.

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How Does the Court Handle Digital Privacy?

Digital space, like an email account, is often treated as personal property. If a couple owns a home together, that asset would be accessible to both parties until the divorce finalized who it belonged to. The same is true with email accounts, but only if the couple owned the account together. In these cases, one person could log in and read emails sent or received by the other person. Because he or she has partial ownership of the account, any evidence found there could be admissible in court.

That is not the case when an email account is owned by only one person. In that situation, only the owner of the account is legally allowed to log in. In fact, if the other individual tries to access it with an electronic device or a wiring accessory, this may violate San Diego’s wiretapping laws.

Because phones are also personal property, the same principle is true for text messages. If the couple owns the phone jointly, both have legal access to it. But if only one person owns the phone, the contents on the phone should remain private and are not admissible as evidence.

Social media websites and profiles have an entirely different nature, unlike other types of digital space. These websites are public, so no one can expect any real amount of privacy when using them. While one person can block another person from following or seeing tweets and Facebook posts, if someone circumvents those measures and ends up seeing the information anyway, this would not be considered illegal.

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Digital Privacy Clause

But there is a way for couples to protect themselves, and that’s by including a digital privacy clause within a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These clauses state that one spouse cannot reveal the personal information of the other spouse should a divorce ever take place. These clauses cover electronic devices such as phones and laptops, and prohibit any content on them from becoming evidence in court.

With a digital privacy clause in place, even couples who share an email account or cell phone would not be able to present any findings from that device. Without a clause like this, that evidence may be allowed.

The clauses are important for ensuring damning evidence doesn’t come up during the divorce proceedings, and also help protect a person’s privacy after the divorce becomes final. Without these clauses, confidential information could become part of the public record. For very wealthy or prominent public figures, they are a must; but everyone could benefit from less "oversharing" in a nasty divorce.

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Speak With a Divorce Attorney

If you’re about to get married, or have recently gotten married, and do not have a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement, speak to Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. Our attorneys know the law surrounding these marital agreements, and we know how today’s ever-changing digital world affects them. Call today at (858) 458-9500 to learn more about how you can protect yourself and your privacy.

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Additional Information

(858) 458-9500

Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C.
11455 El Camino Real, Suite 470
San Diego, California 92130
Office: (858) 458-9500
Fax: (858) 630-2341

Our Firm Services The Following California Areas:
San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Pacific Beach, and Mission Beach.

Certified family law specialist by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization.

Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. is a San Diego, California firm practicing exclusively in the area of domestic relations law. We handle a wide range of matters including divorce, child custody, and child support. Whatever your situation we can be of assistance. Feel free to contact us today.

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