One Small Step for Woman-Kind, One Giant Step for Divorce and Family Law (The First “Space Case”)
Divorce and custody matters are not limited by earthly boundaries. As apparently the first case of its kind, an astronaut allegedly accessed her spouse’s bank information while in space. While your spouse may not be in orbit (at least not literally), this case demonstrates how electronic information may be accessible from virtually anywhere without the right safeguards, and how that information can occupy a pivotal role in a family’s law case.
Was this shepherding the family finances, or an international space crime? That depends on which party you’re asking in this case. Bank records are a staple of discovery, the process by which one party finds out information from another. Spouses also often share login and financial information during friendlier time in a marriage, which then becomes an issue during a divorce. Maybe Lt. Col. McClain was doing what she had always done, and properly ensuring that the family finances were in order, and now her spouse is weaponizing those actions against her. Or maybe this astronaut was violating laws and regulations in an ongoing effort to spy on her spouse as an act of control –even from space— during a bitterly contested divorce. This case demonstrates the radically different positions each side can take in a family case, and the need for legal counsel as a guide through that thorny thicket.
Electronic information is also now front and center in many marital disputes. Parties need to ensure that they are not still linked to a spouse in ways which they did not intend, such as shared passwords for a person’s sole/person information which have not been updated appropriately. Parties also do need to ensure that they are obtaining important financial and other information needed in the divorce, through the right discovery methods. Good legal counsel should be there to help in ascertaining how electronic information may play a role in family and matrimonial cases.
Alexander J. Cuda is a highly respected family and matrimonial law attorney. With numerous published articles and speaking engagements, Alex’s leadership in family law is well-known. He has been named one of the “Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in Southern Connecticut” by such organizations as the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (2017).