Kim Komando, Special to USA TODAY
Published 6:32 a.m. ET April 6, 2019 | Updated 11:41 a.m. ET April 8, 2019
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Facts are facts: Nearly half of American marriages end in divorce. Many married couples end up separated. In the past, the end of a relationship meant dividing up physical objects, like furniture and photo albums. Now that we live in the 21st century, former sweethearts find themselves tangled up in gadgets, passwords, and online accounts.
If the breakup is an ugly one, a vindictive ex might cause a lot of digital damage. Moving out is already a hard and emotional decision, and now that things might get hostile, there are some precautions you should take – right away.
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Gadgets: Start at the beginning
It’s highly likely that your ex knows just about all of the important passwords you use daily. Perhaps you share an online banking account, use one Netflix account, or even share a Reddit username.
As soon as divorce enters the picture and you decide it’s time to go along with it, you should change any and all passwords to the accounts you plan on keeping solo.
This step will mitigate potential damage your ex could do in the future, by way of a meddling new boyfriend or girlfriend, irrational behavior, or curiosity that comes on after the break-up.
Make a list of all the passwords you could have shared and create new ones for each one. Use a service like the strong random password generator to create secure passwords, and then a tool like LastPass or KeePass to organize them all. This way, you’ll feel better knowing you’re keeping your lives separate from here on out – at least, in the digital world.
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Gadgets: Get a clean slate
It can be easy to slip into a routine when you share technology. Say you and your partner keep a shared tablet in the living room for when you want to look something up while watching a movie or log in to pay bills. It likely has all of your passwords saved, an extensive history of all your browsing and even images on it you may not want to keep.
Before you decide who gets to keep your shared devices, back up what you want and then factory reset it. Go ahead and wipe it completely clean so that it starts as fresh it was when it came home from the factory.
Follow the same steps with computers, phones, and other electronic devices with the capability of saving data like banking info, tax returns, instant messages, or anything you don’t want the other person taking with them. Make sure you have what you need, and then destroy it all.
Tip in a Tip: Deleting data isn’t good enough if your ex is keeping the laptop or computer. You’ll want to delete data for good on your PC or Mac.
Gadgets: Think about the kids
If you have children, you may end up splitting custody. It can be challenging to figure out how to organize meetings, schedule time, or keep track of upcoming mandated visitations and failing to keep your end of the bargain can have serious consequences. Enter CoParenter, an app meant to help take the guesswork out of separation when it comes to the little ones.
The app is available to download via the App Store and on Google Play for both iOS and Android users. It collects data while you use it, including communication between you and your ex-partner, location information of both users and other relevant data points. It does that so that information can be used in court should things become heated when discussing whose turn it is to get the kids.
CoParenter features a 30-day trial period with a $12.99 monthly fee or $119.99 yearly plan. The app will also help you filter out hostile language if things get testy. Better communication, after all, is good for everyone.
Gadgets: Tackle your social media
Perhaps you and your ex shared a Facebook account where you kept mutual friends, photos, or conversations. Maybe you went on Twitter and posted fun status updates in brighter times. It’s time to go ahead and close down those accounts, and create your private profile, even if you’re staying friends with your ex-significant other.
After you’ve locked down the old accounts, you can consider making a new, private profile, taking precautions not to post anything inflammatory or incriminating.
If you decide to create a new profile and you don’t want to potentially invite drama or your ex into your life, make sure all your social media privacy settings are up to date and think about taking your entire profile private for a while.
If you have a private account, do some pruning to make sure everything is squeaky clean. Delete potentially problematic posts you may have made and start fresh. You don’t want