Issues with iCloud in Divorce

Posted on May 9, 2018 by Katie Carter

On Monday, we discussed issues that women face in divorce and custody cases as it relates to their social media accounts. Whether your social platform of choice is Facebook (if you’re old like me) or if you’re younger and hipper and are on Instagram or Snapchat, social media use is a big issue in family law cases these days.

Online dating, crowdfunding, blogging – all of these things can pose issues in your case, especially if you have a tendency (as so many of us these days do) to overshare. Oversharing can really hurt a case, especially if what you have to say is angry, bitter, jealous, passive aggressive, or otherwise paints you in a negative light. It’s all about appearances, as you well know. It’s a highlight reel; the question is just what you choose to highlight.

The best course of action is to post nothing. It’s hard to judge nothing. Nothing doesn’t tell the court that you’re promiscuous or vindictive or a raging alcoholic suffering from a personality disorder. But, if you do choose to post, then, at the very least, you should request a copy of our free guide to social media during divorce and custody cases.  I can’t sit over your shoulder, watch your every move, or edit your posts before you share them live for all the world to see, but I hope I can help you avoid some common, potentially damaging mistakes this way.

Technology spurs people to make all sorts of mistakes in their divorce and custody cases. Social media is only one of those ways.

These days, I also see issues with iCloud. Big issues. Terrible issues. Especially when a husband and wife share an iCloud account.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

If you share an iCloud account, things – like each other’s contacts and emails – can sync to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod. When you guys were together and happy, it probably wasn’t a big deal.

Buuuuuuut now, if you’re thinking that you might be headed towards a divorce or custody case, you’re going to want to be much, much more careful.

You should have your own iCloud account, and, if you don’t, you should call Apple and see what you can do to extricate yourself and your personal information from being linked with your husband’s. But, in the meantime, and really all the time (regardless of whether you have a shared iCloud account), you should be very careful what you do with your devices.

Photos sync. Videos sync. Text messages sync. And if what you’re taking pictures or videos of or texting about is grounds for divorce, you should tread very, very, very carefully. No, scratch that last, you should NOT be taking pictures, making videos, or texting about anything that is criminal or grounds for divorce – like adultery.

Imagine how bad it would be if pictures of you and your boyfriend – you know, pictures of a questionable nature – automatically appeared on your husband’s phone or tablet!

You might think, “What kind of idiot does something like that?” Your next thought is probably, “Oh my god! We have shared iCloud accounts – this could happen to me!” To me, the stupid part is not so much the iCloud part – that makes sense, and I know a lot of married couples who share these accounts – but the actual taking pictures part. I mean, I know that, generationally, we get more and more photographed as time goes on. We think nothing of pressing that little circle button and saving a picture for posterity.

After all, it’s memories! Right? Well…. Maybe. But, if you’re already married, or if you’re doing something that could call into question your ability to parent your children, you’re in dangerous waters. The safest bet (like with social media) is to post/share/document little to nothing. If you have a shared iCloud account, even more of a reason not to take pictures.

I heard a story once about a woman whose husband found out that she was having an affair, not because she had a shared iCloud account with him, but because her iCloud played a slideshow of photographs on her TV when it was idle, like a screensaver. She had some kids (and their moms) over for a playdate when some terribly unflattering borderline pornographic photos started coming across the screen. She never thought about her pictures playing back on her TV. One of the moms told her husband and… the cat was out of the bag.

With technology becoming smarter and smarter, we have to think three steps ahead. The best idea is not to create “evidence” like this at all, but, if it exists, you’re going to have to do some serious thinking about how to keep it contained.

Remember, too, that in contested divorces, discovery is a thing, and opposing counsel can request documents and videos on your computer hard drive, as well as full print outs of your social media profiles (which is actually fairly easy to do), including your messages, etc.

You should always be careful what you put in writing. Be careful, too, of what you preserve in images and videos. Once created (and especially once shared), there’s very little we can do to contain things. In some cases, these things take on a life of their own (especially like in these iCloud cases) and wreak havoc on divorce and custody cases.

Does it seem farfetched? It isn’t. These kinds of things happen all the time, with varying degrees of severity. But you should be very, very careful, and make sure that you’re aware of where your pictures sync.

For more information, or to schedule a one on one appointment with one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.