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Electronic data may be reviewed during divorce proceedings

The Internet is a popular and frequently utilized communication channel. Thus, information sent across the Web or stored on a cloud server can become a key factor in major life events, including marriage, separation and divorce. Virginia couples who are facing the end of a marriage should use caution regarding the information they send over the Internet to avoid complications during the divorce process.

During the negotiation phase of a divorce, couples may be subject to a review of their electronic communications, such as emails, Facebook posts and texts. While the initial divorce petitioner may request a communication review if infidelity or other unscrupulous behavior is suspected, both parties may be required to divulge messages sent and received via electronic channels. These communications can factor into divorce settlement proceedings, possibly impacting an individual's reputation as well as property division determinations.

Experts caution that those who regularly use electronic forms of communication should be proactive regarding the protection of their online activity. Couples may wish to consider adding a social media clause to their prenuptial agreements prior to tying the knot. Further, even in a healthy marriage, both spouses should avoid writing angry emails or posts following an argument, and couples should consider using two separate email addresses: One for business communication, and one for personal messages.

If a divorce is imminent, both parties should change their passwords and security questions on all email and social media accounts in order to retain privacy, according to legal professionals. People who have questions about the use of electronic data in divorce negotiations may wish to seek representation from an attorney with experience in these types of family law matters.

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