In 1986, when I first began to advise clients on family law, the issues we had to deal with were relatively simple. How things have changed.
For some time now we have all had to grapple with the development of technology, but that technology can make separation all the more difficult if not dealt with properly.
There are the obvious issues that arise on separation such as ensuring you detach from the family “icloud type” data storage facilities if you are to avoid personal photos, information and communications being open for everyone linked to view. There are the problems caused by social media – posting your new life on facebook, instagram or twitter can lead to your otherwise innocent-seeming posts being used as evidence in court against you. And omitting to change all your passwords, previously shared with a spouse or partner, for bank or other online accounts, email or calendars, can have disastrous results for financial or other confidential information.
Of course there are times when technology is being used in a manner which is hostile and in some cases downright fraudulent. We are seeing more and more voice activated devices being available to “listen in” to private conversations. Web cams, CCTV or other types of recordings are often then shared online with family members, or with third parties such as employers, intending to cause maximum distress. Tracker devices placed on a spouse’s vehicle to monitor their every movement are again more common and one has to question why necessary.
Fraudulent accessing of bank accounts or email accounts or intercepting a spouse’s post is sadly something which is again a tactic employed by some acrimonious spouses This sort of activity is illegal and as solicitors we must have no part in this sort of behaviour.
However in recent weeks the developments of the 21st century have reached new depths when there have been reports of a former spouse, following separation, forging consent to use frozen eggs (already fertilized by the other spouse) stored with an IVF clinic during the marriage. Without the actual consent of the other spouse, the former wife has given birth to a child.
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