Don’t hack your spouse’s accounts during a divorce

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in divorce on Friday, February 5, 2016.

Americans are not very good at protecting their sensitive information. Some of the most popular passwords for many online and email accounts are “password” and “1234.” Many people may use a combination of their name and birthday or other familiar information.

Needless to say, this may make it easy for family members to guess other family member’s passwords. During a marriage, this may not matter a great deal, as many couples have joint accounts, so each is entitled to access, and they may share password information for items like email.

Once a divorce begins, however, it is less innocent. In a Missouri case, an attorney is now facing disciplinary charges after his client “hacked” his spouses emails during a divorce proceeding and turned over documents to the attorney that were then used in court.

The attorney claims his client accessed his wife’s email account and obtained payroll information and question’s the wife’s attorney had prepared for the trial.

The man died after the trial, so any issue of his wrongdoing is moot, but the attorney is responsible for all documents prepared in connection with a case, so he could be disciplined for actions by his client or paralegal, even if he did not order the actions or was not aware of the documents.

This sordid tale is a reminder for all those involved in divorce proceedings to recognize the risk of having their confidential, sensitive information disclosed inadvertently to a spouse. Before you file, you should make certain that your email accounts and any other online services are protected from your spouse.

You don’t want your spouse to have access to your email, social media, bank, investment or payrolls accounts. If possible, you should obtain a new phone account and even divest yourself of such items as shared streaming accounts like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

With your divorce and emotional separation from your spouse, you also need to ensure that all of your other accounts are likewise fully separated from your spouse to prevent mischief and the potential for wrongdoing.

Source:, “St. Charles lawyer used illegally obtained emails in divorce case, officials say,” Robert Patrick, February 1, 2016

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