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Beware of a data trail in your divorce

Some couples are quite open with one another about their email and social media accounts, going so far as sharing the same account. Others are more circumspect, maintaining their separate accounts, but perhaps being a bit lax about password security.

Whatever works for the specific couples is fine — until it’s not, such as when divorce looms.

Erase your digital tracks

There are many things you need to do when filing for divorce. Changing the locks and getting separate bank accounts and credit cards are important. But so is changing the passwords on email and social media sites.

You might think that it really doesn’t matter if your ex knows your Netflix password. While that may be true in most cases, remember that knowledge is power. Armed with only a Netflix password, your ex knows not only what TV shows and movies you are watching, but when and potentially even where and on what device.

If you are involved in a heated custody battle, that innocuous information could potentially be used against you if your ex alleges you allow the minor kids to watch R-rated movies or that all you do is watch The Real Housewives reruns when it’s your turn to have the kids.

Email is a data trove

Your email inbox is chock-full of information about you, your spending patterns and activities. Planning a weekend getaway? Booking.com has your itinerary detailed in their email, as does Expedia for your preferences for a rental car.

Do you really want your ex to know all of that, along with the fact that you forked over $16.95 for express delivery of that new $150 bathing suit you ordered for your beach vacation? The flotsam and jetsam of life may not make for compelling reading, but can be used against you under the right — or wrong — circumstances.

The landmines of social media

If you shared passwords for social media sites (or especially if you shared an account), it’s imperative that you change passwords now or set up your own account. If an ex can access your social media accounts, at best, he or she can spy on you at will. At worst, a vindictive ex can wreak digital havoc by posting revealing photos or inflammatory and derogatory posts under your name and account.

During a pending divorce, it’s also a good time to “go dark” on social media sites. You may go through Instagram or Facebook withdrawal for a few days, but you will shut down the information pipeline into your daily moods, activities and interests.

If you can’t bear to “pull the plug” entirely on your social media sites, make sure that you don’t make the mistake of posting defamatory remarks about your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Keep in mind that even if it happens to be true, oversharing personal details about another person on social media sites just makes you look bad. It could even adversely affect your divorce or custody case in the Michigan family courts.