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Who controls the smart home technology after separation?

Smart home systems can be used to remotely change the thermostat settings, monitor who is at the door or play music through speakers. In 2017, an estimated 29 million homes had these technologies and the number have been quickly growing in our Houston neighborhoods.

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Following a separation and during the divorce process, these technologies may take on a more sinister role. The person who set up the system and created the passwords may use it to monitor what is happening at the home or harass the other spouse. 

Apps on phones are another feature that many take for granted to see where family members are at when planning who will be home for a meal. These same apps can cause issues after a separation especially as emotions run hot.

Consider what technology you have in your home and on your phone and take action to change passwords or delete/remove it. When accusations of physical abuse or stalking exist, a protective order may also be necessary.

Types of protective orders

In Texas there are three main types of protective orders:

  • Temporary Ex Parte Protective Orders - This is temporary and generally includes possession of and access to the children and property
  • Final Protective Orders - Includes a child support and spousal support determination and possible treatment requirement
  • Magistrate's Orders for Emergency Protection (MOEP) - These issue after an arrest related to family violence.

As technology advances, it can take the law time to catch up. This means that the standard language of a restraining order may not have specifics related to smart home technology or phone apps. This is where an attorney can assist. After learning the specifics of your case, your lawyer can ensure a protective order accounts for any of these new technologies.

As we enter the new year, it may be time to make a fresh start. If this involves leaving a relationship that has become abusive, get experienced legal representation right away. If law enforcement has been involved and criminal charges are pending, it is crucial to get assistance from an attorney who knows and understands both the criminal and civil courts in Harris County.

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