In the age of the internet, social media, and smart phones, a new issue has arisen that adds another layer of stress to the process of getting divorced: how to protect your various private communications. With all of the emotional turmoil that divorce brings, it is not unlikely that spouses will be tempted to snoop on each other’s texts, e-mails, and Facebook pages. So how can you protect yourself?
The easiest thing you can do is to change all of your passwords once you know that you and your spouse are on the way to ending your marriage. While this seems like common sense, it is something that often is not high on a list of priorities that includes important tasks such as rearranging bank accounts, finding a new place to live, and resolving custody issues. But, it is easy to do, and is worthwhile if your spouse knows your existing account information.
Pennsylvania law does prohibit the recording of someone’s voice without their permission, but there currently are not any laws that prohibit husbands and wives from accessing each other’s personal communications, even during the divorce process. It is thus important to avoid posting things on Facebook or other websites that might relate in some way to the divorce.
One important exception to the no-protection state of the law is the protection of communications between individuals and their attorneys. Such communications are confidential in every state. This requirement of confidentiality is known as the attorney-client privilege, and it means that anything someone says or writes to their attorney is protected from disclosures to third parties, including spouses. Judges will not allow the content of attorney-client communications to be entered as evidence in court, and attorneys who attempt to use such materials may be formally reprimanded.
In general, clients should be very cautious about protecting their personal e-mails, texts, and other communications as they navigate the divorce process. Change your passwords!