In the days before online bank accounts and computer wizardry, it may have been relatively easy to hide money from an estranged spouse. But in the last few years, thanks to technology, all of that has changed.

When a couple gets a divorce, some estranged spouses might be tempted to withhold information from the other party, such as the amount of money they have or activities they are participating in. That’s not always a wise move.

Through many means, a person can find out a lot about their ex by looking online. Going into someone’s web surfing history, doing a Google search or examining what they’ve posted on social media sites can be revealing.

Some people also use programs that can analyze digital bank statements in the blink of an eye. It changes the meaning of what a “paper trail” is.

Then there’s the matter of people poking into an ex-spouse’s life illegally, sometimes with the use of spyware or even recording devices or cameras. Even though attorneys may advise their clients never to use these means, it doesn’t stop some people. Even if they find information legally, it won’t always be admissible in court.

In any case, it’s definitely easier now than it used to be to discover if an estranged partner has been lying about money or some other issue. According to the Wall Street Journal, one attorney says, “The trail left by files on a computer is etched onto a hard drive somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Why hiding money from your spouse has gotten a lot harder,” Veronica Dagher, April 30, 2012