In Space, Everyone Can Hear Your Divorce
Most married couples share bank accounts or at least share account passwords with each other. When in the middle of a divorce, however, whether it is okay to access your estranged spouse’s bank account can be a gray area. Just ask astronaut Anne McClain.
International Space Station (“ISS”) astronaut Anne McClain is an accomplished woman. She graduated from West Point with a degree in engineering and is a decorated lieutenant colonel in the Army. In her free time, she volunteers and plays rugby.
Space Crime or Revenge?
Sadly, she may be remembered for something much less impressive – being the first NASA astronaut accused of committing a space crime. You see, she is also in the middle of a nasty divorce from her spouse Summer Warden. The couple shares custody of Ms. Warden’s biological son.
Ms. Warden alleges that Lt. Col. McClain improperly accessed her bank account while on the ISS. McClain does not deny she accessed the account but claims she was just checking on the couple’s financial status and did nothing wrong.
Ms. Warden disagreed and filed an identity theft complaint against Lt. Col. McClain with the FTC. Not only that, Ms. Warden admits that part of the motivation for filing the FTC claim was retaliation after Lt. Col. McClain was awarded visitation rights with her stepson earlier that month. Angry, Ms. Warden told the press “I knew I had to come forward and tell my story because the momentum of the case was not going in the direction we were hoping it would go.” Did Lt. Col. McClain overstep?
Maybe. Destroying Lt. Col. McClain’s reputation and possibly career seems a bit of an overreaction to her simply looking at a bank account. But this story is a stark reminder to stay far away from any separate accounts that are protected by a password during a divorce. Even if you had access to an account during the marriage do not log into your spouse’s separate accounts unless there is a court order specifically giving you permission to do so.
On the ground here in Collin County, divorcing couples are forbidden from “using a password or personal identifying information to gain access to the other party’s email account, bank account, social media account, or any other electronic account” by the Standing Order on Children, Property, & Conduct of Parties. (The complete Order can be found here). Denton County has a similar provision in its Standing Order (the complete order is here).
If you have questions about what you can and cannot do while a divorce, modification, or enforcement action is in progress, give us a call at 469.676.6644 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.