Maintaining the privacy and security of personal information is an important consideration during a divorce. Whether you want to prevent your spouse from reading emails from your divorce lawyer or hope to keep your dirty laundry out of the public eye, consider the following steps to beef up your privacy protection.
Step 1: Hire a divorce attorney who is vigilant about privacy.
Next to yourself, your lawyer is the first line of defense when it comes to privacy protection, so it’s essential to choose wisely. Before you hire a divorce attorney, ask him or her what steps they will take to keep your information secure—before, during and after your divorce or child custody case.
For example, at the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth, we have invested in state-of-the-art technology to keep hackers at bay. In addition, the Texas state bar requires attorneys keep a hard copy of all documents related to client cases for four years. We don’t store those documents at our office, we save them at a secure, offsite storage facility. After four years, we have them destroyed at a secure, offsite shredding location.
It’s also worth noting that every conversation we have with our client remains confidential. In addition, we take steps to possibly keep details about the divorce out of the public record (see Step 5 below. These are just a few of the things we do at our Fort Worth family law firm to maintain client privacy. If you need more details, just ask.
Step 2: Set up a new email account that only you have access to.
One of the first pieces of advice we give new clients is to set up a new email account with a strong password their spouse is unlikely to guess. Many couples share family email accounts, and that’s the last place you want to communicate with your attorney about strategy or receive emails about new financial accounts you may have opened.
Shared phone plans can also present issues by allowing access to other family member’s information and location tracking through features like Find My iPhone. Setting up a new phone number and plan separate from your spouse is another smart privacy and security protection move during divorce.
IMPORTANT: Deleting certain emails and email accounts may be construed as destruction of evidence during divorce. Ask your attorney for additional insight and best steps for managing family email accounts legally.
Step 3: Change all passwords and update beneficiaries.
Even if you and your spouse have always had separate email and financial accounts (bank, credit card, insurance, etc.) in the past, there’s a good chance he or she is familiar with your passwords or where to find them. The end goal here is to completely sever any access your spouse has to your private information, so change those passwords ASAP.
People also forget about changing beneficiary designations when they’re in the heat of a divorce. If you don’t want your future ex spouse to benefit from your death down the road, update beneficiaries on financial accounts and insurance policies now.
Step 4: Ask your divorce attorney how to protect bank and credit card accounts properly.
If you’re thinking about removing your spouse from a shared bank account or joint credit card, call your attorney first. At our Fort Worth family law firm, we do like to get financial accounts separated from the outset, so the other spouse doesn’t drain a bank account or charge up credit cards but that isn’t always easy.
The other party may have filed an injunction or put a temporary restraining order in place to prevent you from doing so. In Texas, some counties also have standing orders pertaining to financial accounts that you’ll need to navigate. That’s why it’s important to ask your divorce attorney to analyze the situation and advise on best steps to secure your finances.
Step 5: Address issues and agreements outside of the physical courthouse when possible.
In the state of Texas, it isn’t easy to seal divorce records but there are things you can do to prevent private matters from becoming public. One option is to hire a private judge to preside over your case. The proceedings may still be held in a courtroom but the public will be barred from listening in.
Collaborative divorce is also an option in Texas. While it isn’t the best approach for all couples, collaborative divorce proceedings are held behind closed doors and related paperwork remains private.
Your attorney may also prepare agreements that are incident to your divorce case in Texas. This means an agreement has been filed with the court saying that an outside agreement or physical document exists that hasn’t been filed inside the court system. Since it isn’t part of the public record, the public won’t have access to it.
Want to hire one of the best divorce attorneys in Fort Worth to help keep your divorce private?
Justin Sisemore has been rated one of the top three best divorce lawyers in Fort Worth, Texas. Justin is passionate about protecting his client’s best interests and maintaining privacy. After more than a dozen years of practicing family law in North Texas, Justin is keenly familiar with the limitations and protections available to clients based on the Texas family code and the procedures different counties require. To schedule a one-on-one consultation with Justin, visit our contact page.
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