How to Protect Yourself Online When Dealing with Divorce

When contemplating divorce or going through divorce, you have more on your plate than perhaps ever before. Protecting yourself online is probably one of the last things on your mind, but it is so important! Not taking these steps puts you at risk for damaging your credit, increasing your debt, having your confidential information in the hands of your spouse or others, damaging your reputation as a parent, or you could even be handing over proof to the legal system that you are at fault in your divorce! Trust me, it’s worth the effort to lock down your online self!

  1. Change UserIDs and Passwords. Computer logins, appleIDs, emails, your personal bank and credit card accounts – each and every app, device and account you ever access with a login needs to be changed. Total pain in the arse I know, but do you want your spouse checking out emails between you and your lawyer or tracking your spending? Didn’t think so.
  2. Create a new email account. This adds an additional layer of security. It’s an account your spouse doesn’t know about, and you can keep all divorce related communications housed in this one place. It also has a side benefit of not having divorce related emails attacking you throughout the day!
  3. Stop Posting. Posting pictures on FaceBook documenting your party pics or hanging out with people or in places you wouldn’t want your spouse to see are a bad idea. You could literally be handing over evidence against yourself. Same concept holds true for Twitter and similar apps. Don’t think your spouse’s lawyer isn’t reviewing your social media accounts! This is a great time for a social media detox.
  4. Phone Tracking. Smart phones have done an amazing job of keeping families and friends in the loop of each other’s locations and sharing information. This is fine and dandy when that is what you want. I’m fairly sure this isn’t a great idea for those contemplating divorce or going through divorce! Remove your device and account information for all other devices that do not belong to you or that are not with you at all times. If you have an iPhone or iPad, changing your appleID is the first step!
  5. PIN Numbers. Add and/ or change them all now. This includes passwords to access voicemail, ATM machines, your phone and any accounts. If you do not currently have a PIN on your phone or voicemail, now is a great time to add it. Your spouse can probably access your voicemail accounts from another phone and get messages if you do not have a PIN. No lucky numbers, birthdays or “1234”. Be tricky!
  6. Electronic Document Storage. You may choose to keep important financial or legal documents electronically instead of just paper based. Keeping everything on an external storage drive that is password protected and kept in a safe place is a good option. Services such as Google Docs and DropBox are also viable options. Both services claim to be highly secure when set up appropriately. Password protecting, encrypting files and using the two step verification adds to your online protection. Read and follow the instructions and be comfortable with the terms and conditions before moving forward.
  7. Keep confidential info out of your emails. Whether preparing to divorce or not, keeping your social security number, credit card and bank account numbers and other sensitive information out of your emails is necessary. This is about more than your spouse finding information, this is about protecting your identity. Divorce is challenging enough without adding a stolen identity to the mix!

Is your password ‘password’  ?

When changing your userIDs and passwords, avoid the common traps that will leave the door open for your spouse to access these accounts. Your spouse likely knows your commonly used usernames and passwords — so time to get creative and create strong passwords! Keep actual words, children’s names and your lucky numbers out of the passwords. Use at least 8 characters and include symbols, numbers and letters with both forms of capitalization. Keeping track of these passwords is next to impossible without some help. Check out online password managers. Many password managers will also create secure passwords for you. If you choose to keep a hard copy, keep it in a safe that only you can access.

Beware of Changing Joint Accounts
Changing the login information on an account owned by you and your spouse will likely send red flags to your spouse. The company will likely send an automatic email or text notification of the change. The goal is to protect yourself – not lock your spouse out of an account. Also, beware of the message you are sending if your spouse doesn’t yet know you are looking to get divorced! You’ll want to contact each credit card company used for joint accounts and get their advice on how to handle that account based upon your situation and how the account is set up. Keep a close eye on the activity of these joint accounts while both spouses are using the card. You want to ensure cash isn’t disappearing or credit cards aren’t being maxed!

Taking these steps will help keep your money and information secure and will provide you much needed peace of mind. Not only does this help when preparing for divorce, but is also good practice for everyone at anytime. Much more valuable information on this topic and many others is available with your Untangle The Knot Service. Learn more!

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Blindsided by Divorce? Steps to Take Now

It may have began like any other day, until your world as you thought you knew it is shaken to its very core. Your spouse wants a divorce. He’s unhappy and wants out, and he decides to deliver this news to you as you’re heading out to take the kids to school. She had an affair and informs you via text on your way to a meeting. You didn’t see it coming. You thought everything was fine, right? You may have just chosen not to really see it, whatever it was. You could be feeling total shock, venomous outrage, complete devastation or all of those feelings within a 5-minute period. You may also feel relieved in a way. If you really let yourself think about it, you probably knew something was wrong.

Even though you may be falling to pieces (while the rest of the world seemingly goes about its business), there are actions we encourage you to take so that you can gain control over the situation when your spouse tells you he or she wants a divorce. Please don’t think these steps don’t apply to you, because your spouse feels “so guilty” and wouldn’t do anything else to you. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. It happens more than you would think, especially if there is a new love interest involved. Protect yourself, and remember that knowledge is power. Here’s how to start when your spouse tells you he or she wants a divorce:

  1. Call upon your support network – Who are the one or two trusted friends who will really be there for you when things are tough? The girlfriend who will not only show up with wine and Haagen Dazs at any hour of the night but will drag your butt to yoga class, watch your kids and help you march through the tasks ahead. The buddy who gets you out to watch a game or play a round of golf and listens to you vent, but who will make sure you tackle the action items on your to-do list and approaches your situation with a balanced approach. Keep in mind that the person who just bashes your ex won’t be most helpful here, as good as it may feel to do at points!
  2. Open a checking account – Open a checking account immediately with your name only. If you are working, immediately have your paychecks deposited into the new account. Transfer some funds from your current checking to the new one. Be sure to leave enough to cover any automatic payments and money for your spouse as well. Remember, your spouse could withdraw every penny right now from any joint accounts if he or she wanted to! You need to make sure you have some money to live, but don’t withdraw more than a reasonable sum or it could come back to haunt you.
  3. Gather important documents – You’ll want to have all key documents in a safe place. This includes statements for credit cards, bank and investment accounts, passports (especially for your kids), marriage certificates, birth certificates, social security statements, etc. You may want to store some electronically, such as a USB drive or on a service such as Drop Box. A Safe Deposit Box would be a good option for passports.
  4. Talk with a therapist – If you already have a therapist, call him or her now! Otherwise, now is a great time to start seeing one. A therapist can help you manage the intense emotions you are feeling so you can function through the process a little more clearly.
  5. Consult a lawyer – An initial consultation with a lawyer will give you guidance on your next steps and show you what to expect based on the laws of your state in terms of temporary orders you may need, child custody and a financial settlement.
  6. Tell your kids – You’ll need to tell your kids about the divorce. Hopefully both parents can deliver this message together. Ideally, both parents will stay in the same house for a week or two after telling the kids to help make they feel more secure, however this isn’t always possible.
  7. Take precautions for your kids – Tell your children’s teachers and principal. Schools often have support groups for children of divorce, and the school counselor can make special efforts to reach out. The principal can help you with guarding against any issues of potential kidnapping from the other spouse. Unfortunately, this does happen, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

This is an incredibly difficult time for anyone, and we know the last thing you want to think about is running to the bank and opening a new checking account. However, it’s so important to protect your money, legal rights and children in the midst of all of these big changes. Sign up now for your Untangle The Knot subscription to gain instant access to the complete In Case of Emergency Guide for much more information on what actions you should take now and how to complete them. Untangle The Knot offers many more resources to help you through this, including guides to finding a therapist and lawyer, scripts for how to tell the kids about divorce. With your free trial, you’ll also have access to a free consultation with our divorce coach to get you on the right path and help with going through a divorce. You are not alone. Let us help you through your journey.

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6 Tips to Start Preparing For Divorce

January is known as Divorce Month because more divorces are filed in this month than any other time in the year. If you think you may be going through divorce this year, you are likely overwhelmed and confused, not to mention emotionally distraught. It’s just not as simple as Hollywood makes it sound, where high-powered couples “consciously uncouple” left and right. It can be so hard to know what to do to prepare for divorce, but we have six tips to get you started:

  1. Make the Decision – It’s easy to stay in an unhappy marriage for months and even years. This makes complete sense because the idea of divorce is difficult emotionally, financially and logistically. But these aren’t reasons to stay in a bad marriage. Sometimes an event happens that makes the decision for you, but more often there is nothing specific guiding you in when to divorce, which is why people stay in limbo so long. Determine what you need to make the decision–therapy, understanding your finances, etc.–and begin taking the steps to get there.
  2. Put Your Children First – You need to consciously decide early on that you will put the best interests of your children first. This should be the lens through which your decisions are made. The effect of divorce on children can potentially be negative, but experts agree that it can be largely avoided through shielding your children from arguing, age-appropriate open communication and using an authoritative parenting style, to name a few. If you both commit to putting your children first, they will get through this transition more easily and the potential for long-term negative impacts will be lessened.
  3. Consult with a Lawyer – Untangle The Knot recommends this for everyone. Divorce laws vary by state and can be filled with nuances that can impact your particular situation. A lawyer will help you understand how the state laws impact your finances, support payments and parenting items. A lawyer will also help guide you on how to start a divorce, the process and alert you to potential issues. You don’t need to use a lawyer through the divorce process, but understanding your divorce from a legal point of view up front is very important!
  4. Know Your Numbers – You need to get a grip on your financial situation. It is critically important when you are considering divorce. You’ll need to know your current finances and how much money you’ll have on a monthly basis after divorce. Granted, spousal and child maintenance won’t be known yet, but it’s important to have a solid idea of where you stand without that.
  5. Start Planning – Begin thinking about other big decisions you’ll need to make. Based upon your post-divorce financial picture, will you or your spouse need to start working? How will this affect child care? Will one of you stay in the house? You will need to answer a myriad of questions, which can be absolutely overwhelming. We recommend that you look at your post-divorce financial situation first and determine what changes need to occur based upon that.
  6. Develop Your Support Network – You will need people you can count on through this journey. This could include close friends, family, a therapist, a support group, spiritual or religious leaders or organizations. Not everyone may understand or agree with your divorce, which may show you that people you thought would be in your corner are actually not. That will happen. Cross them off the support list and only include those who really have your best interests at heart.

As you start to gain more clarity around one item, you’ll be able to move to the next and knock that out as well. Little by little, your picture will become clear and you’ll know what you need to do. Sign up now for instant access to additional information about these topics and much more. We have 100+ pages of helpful information to guide you through making the decision to divorce or actually going through a divorce. This can be a lot to process. Take a breath and just go one step at a time. You aren’t alone. Let us guide you through your divorce journey.


How I Untangled My Knot

I am just on the other side of untangling my own knot, and I am truly grateful for that. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. In most people’s eyes, we had a relatively good life — fairly happy, successful, two kids and the white picket fence, so to speak. But here’s the deal. Nothing is as it seems at times. I pondered the possibility of divorce for a long time, while questions and fears swirled through my head. I’m sure he felt the same.

What about the kids? Will they be okay? Will it mess them up for life? Will I have enough money? What will happen with our assets? Where will I live? Should I sell the house? I can’t sell the house until I put on a new roof and update the master bath, right? How much will that cost? Who do I use? How much money will we even get for the house? What will happen to our friends? Will they chose sides? How will the credit card balance get paid off? Can I qualify for a mortgage on my own? Maybe I should rent. Will he bring another woman around my kids? What will people think? How will my parents react? Will I be alone forever? Am I even strong enough to make it through this without breaking? Is being married and unhappy better than being alone? It has to be easier than figuring this out… right?

How do I untangle the knot I once tied?

It took a while to come to the conclusion that divorce was the best option for us, and I am thankful for the people and resources that helped me answer the questions and move through the process in the best possible way. I have learned so much over the last couple of years, and my business partner Seth and I wanted to create a one-stop place of information, support and guidance, where I could share things I’ve learned in hopes of helping even one person find their way out of a situation they know is wrong for them, and help them move toward a more positive journey for their life.

We’ll share the information I used to answer my questions and soothe my fears including guidance for finding the financial and legal resources, how to develop a support network, and finding the appropriate therapy or coaching to not only move through this period of grief, but also to achieve a greater awareness of yourself in preparation for a happier, more fulfilling relationship in the future. I will also share learnings of a spiritual nature that I discovered when I felt desperate for answers and traveled unfamiliar avenues in hopes of finding them. Each of these topics contributed in some way to my journey. I invite you to read and think about each topic with an open mind, try it on and see what fits. If you can find even one nugget that provides some direction, security or even a shred of peace when you need it, I will consider this to be a worthy effort, and I feel honored that I could be of service.