There are different tech safety issues for women to consider depending on whether they are going to court, using mediation or attempting to resolve their issues through negotiation, either by themselves or with the assistance of a lawyer.
Family courts are increasingly moving to remote hearings and online document filing. This means that a woman whose partner is engaging in legal bullying, including tech abuse, needs to ensure that she maintains a very high level of security related to any materials she is preparing, filing or serving electronically. We offer a number of strategies for keeping your devices safer in our Tech Safety Toolkit.
With respect to remote hearings, the woman needs to ensure she is in a safe and secure place where she does not have to worry about her partner being able to threaten her out of the sight and sound of the judge. Through her lawyer, if she has one, she should establish ground rules for the hearing that allow her to take regular breaks.
Women using online mediation services also need to ensure they are in a safe and secure place for any sessions with the mediator. This should be somewhere that the children cannot overhear the discussions.
In both these situations, she should leave any device she is NOT using for the hearing or mediation session outside the room, just in case her partner tries to intimidate her with texts, phone calls or emails.
For any video proceedings, she should ensure there is nothing in the background that may increase her safety risks or be used against her. For example, if her location is unknown to the ex-partner, ensure he cannot identify where she is by something he can see in the background during a video proceeding. Avoid providing any clues of how he could break into her home, or anything that he may use as evidence against her.
If a woman and her former partner are attempting to negotiate a separation agreement directly with one another, the woman should make sure she saves all of her documents and communications in more than one place. If she has not already changed her passwords, now is the time to do that. She should keep her computer locked when she is not using it so children cannot see her legal documents and, possibly, share information with their father or be tricked by him into installing spyware.
In all of these contexts, women should ensure they keep a paper file of everything in addition to the electronic file. The paper file, like the electronic one, should be kept in a secure location that neither her partner nor her children can access.