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Would you want to give your soon-to-be ex-spouse your Facebook password? Probably not. But if you ever go in front of Connecticut's Judge Kenneth Shluger, you may have to.
Judge Shluger has ordered Stephen Gallion and his wife Courtney to exchange Facebook and dating site passwords. Once received, their attorneys are free to research online behavior and use private communications in the divorce.
One little password may ultimately influence whether Stephen receives full custody of the couple's children.
Custody is ultimately why he asked for the password exchange in the first place, reports Forbes. After poking around on the couple's shared computer, Stephen Gallion suspected that there would be useful evidence on his wife's social networking profiles.
Courtney Gallion refused to grant access to her Facebook, EHarmony and Match accounts, according to the site. After researching his own client's accounts, Stephen's attorney asked the judge to order the password exchange.
Neither Stephen nor Courtney will have personal access to the other's accounts. Instead, the exchange will transpire between their attorneys. There appears to have been some concern that one spouse would post messages purporting to be the other.
Even with this protection, there's no doubt that the order impinges on Courtney's privacy. Still, privacy may legally be trumped by other considerations, such as a child's well-being.
A number of courts across the country have agreed, reports Forbes. Judges have ordered password exchanges in personal injury, custody and divorce cases. At times, they have also signed into a litigant's account themselves.
So if there is ever a time to be careful with your online accounts, it's now. Your spouse may do as Stephen Gallion did and seek access.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.