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Divorce Lessons From Outer Space

By: Richard Wolf

It’s something that divorce attorneys see fairly regularly – one spouse accusing the other spouse of accessing their private bank accounts during the divorce process. But what happens when one of the spouses is accessing the bank accounts from space?

Yes, that’s right – outer space. That’s exactly what Summer Worden has accused her spouse, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, of doing.

The issues started when in the midst of a bitter divorce, Ms. Worden found herself wondering how her estranged spouse knew things about her current spending habits. What made things all the more strange was that her spouse was on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station at the time.

Ms. Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer, contacted her bank and asked about the locations of computers that had recently accessed her bank account using her login credentials. The bank was able to identify one computer network registered to NASA.

According to Ms. McClain, she was merely checking on the family’s finances, something that she regularly had done, with Ms. Worden’s permission, during their marriage. In fact, Ms. McClain used the same login information and password that she previously used and she contends that Ms. Worden never said that the account was now off limits.

3 Things to Learn From the “Case in Space”

While this case certainly has some unusual aspects, including potential issues regarding the discovery process, as NASA will most likely be wary of providing access to its highly sensitive computer network, this case does highlight three important issues for people going through the divorce process.

  1. When starting the divorce process it is extremely important to change your passwords for bank accounts, social media accounts, email, etc.

    If you continue to use old login credentials, it’s quite possible that your spouse knows them or can easily guess them. Consider using a password creator to avoid picking a password that they can easily guess. Pro tip from our technology teamhow to build a secure password.

    Also, consider creating a brand new email account for all communications with your attorney and advisors. Before changing login information on any joint account, it’s important to discuss this with your attorney to make sure that you don’t create serious complications.

  2. Make sure that you and your spouse create a clear financial plan during the divorce process. Which bank accounts will remain open? Where do salaries get deposited? How are child expenses going to be paid? While it’s possible that this plan may not be followed, it’s always better to have discussed these financial issues and have a plan in place.

  3. When communicating with your spouse during the process, pay close attention to what they or their attorney is saying. Did your spouse just casually bring up a credit card purchase you just made that they shouldn’t have known about? Did your spouse suddenly and mysteriously produce documents related to their finances a few hours after you emailed your attorney about the same issue? While you might not be a former Air Force intelligence officer, you might stumble upon some important information that you and your attorney should act upon.

Need Help?

Our litigation support professionals help family law attorneys form solid financial strategies for their clients. Contact us online or call 800.899.4623 for help.

Published September 5, 2019

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