Separating tech and finances when getting divorce

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Most families have multiple technologies in place designed to keep their family safe.

But in a separation, this kind of technology can very quickly become a way for one person to stalk, control and invoke fear in the other. On the flipside, it can be an opportunity for one person to accuse the other of doing these things, potentially resulting in restraining orders.

There are also potential financial implications associated with these technologies including billing and access to funds, which should be considered and managed.

how to separate bank accounts when getting a divorce

Here's a list of hidden technology traps and how to rectify them, so that you are able to separate safely.

1. Apple AirTags

An AirTag connects to the owner's iPhone allowing them to track the location of the AirTag anywhere in the world. For pets and luggage, this is a great device.

But this small, inconspicuous device can be used to track another person's whereabouts following separation and can be considered stalking.

So, apart from physically rummaging through all your belongings, how can you check if an AirTag has been planted?

When an AirTag is within proximity of an unlinked iPhone for an extended time, the unlinked phone may receive a notification saying 'AirTag found moving with you', allowing the device to be found and removed. Also, an AirTag may come up when scanning for Bluetooth devices.

2. Security cameras

Modern security camera systems are usually linked and easily accessed, real time and historically, to mobile devices. This can give full visibility of a household, including who is coming and going.These systems sometimes include audio, potentially allowing access to private conversations.

It's important to review these systems and manage who has access once one party has moved out of the home.

3. Shared iCloud, Apple IDs and email access

Shared Apple IDs may allow anyone using that ID to access important data including photographs, contacts, text messages and location.

Upon separation, separate Apple IDs should be set up, and sharing features disabled. It's important to also make sure Apple IDs are billed separately to avoid paying for content purchased by the other party.

Passwords to devices, email accounts, online banking (including non-bank payment systems like Paypal, Afterpay and the like) should also be changed, as there are both privacy and financial implications of these remaining accessible to both parties following separation.

4. Children's tracking apps

Apps allowing parents to track their children's location are increasingly popular.  However, these can also be used as a way to track the location of a parent while children are in their care. This is also a feature of some social media platforms such as Snapchat.

Dealing with this may be tricky as parents may both want to be able to track their children where there is shared care.

Turning off location services or disabling the apps on the child's device/s is one way to avoid this becoming an issue.

5. Joint bank accounts

Using something as unremarkable as a joint bank account or credit card which can be accessed by other account holders, can give real time information about location, spending and activity.

It can also have potential financial implications where one party's income is paid into a joint account, leaving a risk of money being withdrawn without consent. One party can also ask the bank to freeze joint accounts due to a separation.  Both of these risks can leave the person using the joint account in a financially desperate situation.

Ensuring individual accounts are set up following a separation, eliminates these risks and exposure.

6. Travel cards

Something as simple as a public transport travel card may have both financial and privacy implications upon separation.

Where one party is responsible for billing, be aware they may also have access to the other party's trip history, so it's best to make sure this is rectified if the relationship ends.

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Josephine Sergi is the head of family law at Kalus Kenny Intelex. She has more than 15 years' experience in family law both as a lawyer and paralegal. Josephine holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and Masters of Applied Law (Family Law). She is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, Victorian Women Lawyers, the Australian Italian Lawyers Association, and ALTO - Australian-Italian Leaders of Tomorrow. She is also a contributing author of the Australian chapter of the Lexology Private Clients Guide.

Chloe Beare is a family lawyer with Kalus Kenny Intelex and has been heavily involved in a vast range of family law matters, including financial, parenting, divorce and intervention order matters. She is passionate about her role and strives to assist clients in the best way possible. Before becoming a family lawyer, Chloe was a lawyer in the KKI trusts and estate planning team. This allows Chloe to identify and provide advice about succession and family trust issues in the family law context.