Protecting your electronic image in a divorce

In the context of a committed relationship, many couples do not hesitate to send explicit pictures and messages to one and other. Especially for those in a long-distance relationship, or couples who need to travel separately for work, such messages can be an important way to stay emotionally close even when physically apart. However, when a relationship breaks down, the pictures can be used in ways that are unintended. Arizona is attempting to craft a law to help prevent such misuse.

Arizona lawmakers think such behavior should be a felony

Arizona lawmakers take the issue of illicit sharing of explicit pictures very seriously. A committee in the State House of Representatives recently voted on a measure that would make it illegal to share pictures, video, or other electronic images of a person who is undressed or engaged in a sexual act, assuming that the sharing occurred without that individual's consent. The proposed law clarifies that the consent must be in writing, and must have been given prior to the sharing of the images or videos.

Some lawmakers have continuing concerns about the bill

Although the bill passed the committee unanimously, other lawmakers expressed concerns. According to KTAR, some are worried that the bill will make felons of teenagers engaging in sexting behavior, or the sharing of explicit pictures with one and other. Others expressed concern that the law goes too far in protecting those pictured, as they consented to the pictures initially, and thus, should have no right to control future sharing of the images. Still others were concerned that the law would apply to people who share a shared picture, people who may not even realize that the picture was shared initially without the victim's consent.

Other protections may apply

Even without the new law in place, you can take steps to secure your electronic property in cases of divorce. First, it is important to have a good inventory of what electronic images or videos may exist, and to know where they are located. It is best if you can physically control all electronic copies of any explicit pictures that you do not what to be further shared, however, even if you do not control electronics there are some steps you can take. As part of a divorce order, you can ask the court to prohibit the dissemination of the pictures as a temporary measure, or to grant you the pictures as part of a property settlement. Due to the fact that these laws are currently in flux, contact a family law attorney to discuss your particular situation.