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Florida appellate court rules on cyberstalking divorce case

During divorce proceedings, a court will consider several factors when issuing both interim orders and the final order. One factor that may be weighed is whether domestic violence has occurred in the marriage. If so, the court can issue a domestic violence injunction to protect either party during and after the divorce.

Traditionally, violence, stalking, threats, intimidation and other actions have been interpreted as cause for a domestic violence injunction. Recently, cyberstalking and Internet privacy issues have also been considered in these cases.

On Sept. 28, a Florida appellate court ruled that a domestic violence injunction issued on grounds of cyberstalking was not valid because the action in question did not meet the definition of cyberstalking. In this case, a woman used her husband's password to view his emails, which she then used as evidence in their divorce case. Additionally, she blocked his account access by changing the password. The lower court's injunction was overturned because, according to the appellate court, an action is only considered cyberstalking if it involves "electronic communications directed at another."

In the age of the Internet, divorce has the potential to become muddled by issues like this. Everything from emails to Facebook posts can end up being used as evidence in a case. If you are going through a divorce, it may be beneficial to create your own individual accounts with new passwords so an ex-spouse cannot access them. Those who have questions or concerns about how to protect themselves during divorce may find it helpful to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Cybercrime Review, "If I read your emails, change your password, and use your emails against you in a divorce proceeding, am I cyberstalking you?" Justin P. Webb, Oct. 10, 2012

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