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Judge Orders Divorcing Couple to Swap Facebook Passwords

By - Source: Forbes | B 37 comments

So you'll want to delete Facebook, lawyer up, and then hit the gym. In that order.

Some people would have no problem trusting their spouse with the passwords for their various different online accounts, perhaps even their banking pin codes. After all, they're the person you trust most in the world, and it's nice to know that if you forget your password, someone else can remind you. However, it's doubtful many people would trust their ex-husband or ex-wife with the same information. Even if it is just for a social network.

A Connecticut judge recently ordered a divorcing couple to swap the log in details for their Facebook and dating website accounts. According to Forbes, Judge Kenneth Shluger handed down the ruling in late September after a dispute arose between a husband and wife's divorce lawyers. Stephen Gallion told his lawyer that he had seen incriminating things on his wife's Facebook account (via their shared computer at home) that could help him in a custody battle. Mr. Gallion's lawyer asked Mrs. Courtney Gallion the password to her Facebook, as well as EHarmony and Match.com accounts she had created, during a deposition. Courtney initially declined but relented after receiving advice from her own lawyer. 

Courtney is said to have then texted a friend, instructing them to change her password and delete some of her messages. It was at this point that her husband's lawyer, Gary Traystman, stepped in and asked the judge to issue an injunction that would prevent her from deleting any of her messages. Judge Shluger ordered both parties to exchange passwords so that their lawyers could conduct discovery. Traystman says that he has looked over Stephen's Facebook account and feels his side has nothing to worry about. In anticipation that either party might abuse this new-found power, the judge's ruling included a stipulation that no party log in and post messages purporting to be from the account's owner.

Though we can see the reasoning behind the injunction, it's disturbing to know that we may one day be asked to hand over passwords for entire accounts so the opposition can search for evidence. As Forbes' Kashmir Hill points out, as part of a normal 'discovery,' a litigant is asked to turn over "responsive material" but not the keys to access that material and likely much more. It's a perfect example of how the change in the way we communicate and our online behavior is impacting legal proceedings.

Do you think the judge was right in his ruling? Let us know in the comments below!

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 15, 2011 11:59 AM
    Maybe if they didn't spend all their lives on Facebook they wouldn't be getting divorced in the first place.
  • 17 Hide
    xjchcxx , November 15, 2011 11:29 AM
    i read an article which did a study on american divorces due to marital unfaithfulness and it showed the majority of them used a social media website to plan and exploit the affair. In this case, the judge is trying to see if the mother is fit for parent hood (and it's implied she was unfaithful) I'm betting the reason this was allowed was because they had reason to suspect she had plotted certain activities that would prove her inability to be a proper and responsible parent. Many cheaters can still provide for a kid; however, i suspect something more serious was expected to be found, talking about drug usage or something that you can objectively say 'unfit for parenting,' but that's just my speculation.
  • 17 Hide
    acadia11 , November 15, 2011 11:24 AM
    .
    ParrdaccYes I can see why the judge did this. However the problem is where does it end? Looks a little steep imo.


    when you stop living your lives online
Other Comments
    Display all 37 comments.
  • 9 Hide
    Parrdacc , November 15, 2011 11:15 AM
    Yes I can see why the judge did this. However the problem is where does it end? Looks a little steep imo.
  • -4 Hide
    wardler , November 15, 2011 11:16 AM
    When the technology becomes possible, will judge's be allowed to give out the password to our minds?
  • 5 Hide
    acadia11 , November 15, 2011 11:18 AM
    Stop posting isht online ... that's why I don't have facebook, or any of that isht ... oh wait never mind!
  • 5 Hide
    ewood , November 15, 2011 11:21 AM
    not in the right at all.
  • 17 Hide
    acadia11 , November 15, 2011 11:24 AM
    .
    ParrdaccYes I can see why the judge did this. However the problem is where does it end? Looks a little steep imo.


    when you stop living your lives online
  • 17 Hide
    xjchcxx , November 15, 2011 11:29 AM
    i read an article which did a study on american divorces due to marital unfaithfulness and it showed the majority of them used a social media website to plan and exploit the affair. In this case, the judge is trying to see if the mother is fit for parent hood (and it's implied she was unfaithful) I'm betting the reason this was allowed was because they had reason to suspect she had plotted certain activities that would prove her inability to be a proper and responsible parent. Many cheaters can still provide for a kid; however, i suspect something more serious was expected to be found, talking about drug usage or something that you can objectively say 'unfit for parenting,' but that's just my speculation.
  • 15 Hide
    Dantte , November 15, 2011 11:46 AM
    This is merely and example of a modern-day search warrant. If there is enough reason to suspect that they could be hiding evidence via messaging on facebook or other online social media, the judge has every right to do this.

    How is this any different then if the wife or husband had a safe in the house with letters from their "affairs" inside that may prove or disprove some type of wrong doing.
  • -1 Hide
    chickenhoagie , November 15, 2011 11:50 AM
    I suppose it depends on what you're giving up a password to..I'd say it'd be more appropriate for them to have a live session of logging in and searching, rather giving up a password. Giving away a password can give away more than just that facebook account..and could end up being a hassle down the road (people open their mouths and before you know it everyone has the password).
  • 15 Hide
    Netherscourge , November 15, 2011 11:53 AM
    Who needs passwords?

    Just Subpoena the Web Service for ALL data records of the people in question.


    I'm shocked the lawyers didn't ask the judge to just subpoena the entire data history of the Facebook accounts or both people for discovery purposes.

  • 17 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 15, 2011 11:59 AM
    Maybe if they didn't spend all their lives on Facebook they wouldn't be getting divorced in the first place.
  • 13 Hide
    Goldengoose , November 15, 2011 12:06 PM
    acadia11.when you stop living your lives online

    But unfortunately thats how people live and it's only going to get more intense as more tools arise.
  • 11 Hide
    aevm , November 15, 2011 12:16 PM
    Uh-oh... I'll go cancel my Facebook account right now. Oh wait, I don't have one.
  • 0 Hide
    SR-71 Blackbird , November 15, 2011 12:49 PM
    What a joke!
  • 1 Hide
    PeterHighlander , November 15, 2011 12:52 PM
    Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

    What is there to hide?
  • 3 Hide
    thrasher32 , November 15, 2011 1:09 PM
    Just what we need, another reason to hate facebook. yay
  • 0 Hide
    noblerabbit , November 15, 2011 1:17 PM
    This has nothing to do with the judge's decision or the hatred of facebook, but it has everything to do with the will and consequences of this previously married couple. If I were them, I'd work this part out, perhaps even reconcile and forgive, if their love is meant to last. This swapping of passwords won't be healthy for either of them, although, if they are sticking to their decision of divorce, then just carry on , but don't be disrespectful of each other on facebook. Still this is one of the creepiest stories concerning married couples I have probably encountered to date. FB is already creepy, but this takes it to a whole new level of creepiness. sad, really.
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , November 15, 2011 1:39 PM
    It's HER Facebook account. If someone wants to divorce me and take my house it's mine to sell. If someone wants to bring up personal times it's mine to throw away.

    Blatant invasion of privacy runs rampant when people know nothing about technology or ethical judgement.
  • 4 Hide
    acadia11 , November 15, 2011 1:50 PM
    chickenhoagieI suppose it depends on what you're giving up a password to..I'd say it'd be more appropriate for them to have a live session of logging in and searching, rather giving up a password. Giving away a password can give away more than just that facebook account..and could end up being a hassle down the road (people open their mouths and before you know it everyone has the password).



    You realize yu can cahnge th epassword right?
  • 3 Hide
    acadia11 , November 15, 2011 1:51 PM
    noblerabbitThis has nothing to do with the judge's decision or the hatred of facebook, but it has everything to do with the will and consequences of this previously married couple. If I were them, I'd work this part out, perhaps even reconcile and forgive, if their love is meant to last. This swapping of passwords won't be healthy for either of them, although, if they are sticking to their decision of divorce, then just carry on , but don't be disrespectful of each other on facebook. Still this is one of the creepiest stories concerning married couples I have probably encountered to date. FB is already creepy, but this takes it to a whole new level of creepiness. sad, really.


    If there marriage is meant to last then the swapping of facebook passwords won't make a difference. Either you can deal with your partner being a cheating w hore ore you can't. It's pretty much that simple.
  • 4 Hide
    acadia11 , November 15, 2011 1:52 PM
    buffinmcfufferIt's HER Facebook account. If someone wants to divorce me and take my house it's mine to sell. If someone wants to bring up personal times it's mine to throw away.Blatant invasion of privacy runs rampant when people know nothing about technology or ethical judgement.


    It's a custody battle , you can seek evidence however the law allows.
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