Possession of passwords pre and post-divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2022 | Property division

While there are many songs about divorce, one stands out in particular when it comes to asset division. “Who Gets the Family Bible” is a well-known tune representing the difficulties that dividing property in divorce brings.

Today, the “family bible” would more likely be read on an iPad, swiping from verse to verse. Couples who decide to end their marriages may be more concerned about access to other “possessions.” Cybersecurity is a popular topic in a digital age, particularly when relationships go wrong. Still, disputes can arise post-divorce as to who is entitled to custody of log-in information.

The value of online assets

Online assets continue to gain prominence in divorce proceedings. One, in particular, involves passwords that couples shared, particularly those that allowed access to streaming services. It is an issue that can become highly contentious following a breakup.

An ExpressVPN official cited that almost eight out of ten US residents share passwords on various digital platforms while in a relationship. The association goes beyond binge-watching favorite television shows, as many couples share access to email and mobile wallets. While it engenders trust, it can also pose risks to personal privacy.

As with any asset in divorce proceedings, a clear-cut approach to which spouse gets access to certain accounts is paramount. While civility may reign supreme after documents are signed, a fracture in the post-marital relationship can create online chaos.

Ex-spouses who suddenly discover that they have been shut out when they attempt to log in may think the worst, fostering resentment and hurt feelings.

It is important to note that many online terms of service agreements forbid the sharing of passwords. Perhaps the best option may be a “digital dissolution” with set parameters that each spouse must live by. The simple act of deciding who gets the family Netflix account can make for a more peaceful post-marital relationship.