Why am I receiving my ex-spouse’s text messages? Divorce and Shared Apple ID’s

February 17, 2020

If you and your spouse own iPhones, you might also share an Apple ID. An Apple ID is a username and password combination that syncs to iCloud and allows you to access your settings, photos, messages, etc. across multiple devices. Often times couples will share the same Apple ID to share purchased applications, music, and other media.

If you shared an Apple ID with your spouse during your marriage, it is important to understand that your text messages, emails, calendar, photos, and any other personal information on your phone may still be accessible to your former partner following separation. Your spouse may be able to see your messages concerning the divorce, kids’ activity schedule, or even confidential emails with your divorce attorney.

You may not believe you or your former spouse are tech-savvy enough to access your personal information through this shared Apple ID scenario, but it often happens without the person even intending to view the other’s data. I have seen situations where couples who share an ID unwittingly receive the other’s text messages and phone calls. Because Apple devices can be significantly synced with each other, it is important to verify that only you have access to your data.

The cleanest solution during a divorce is for each party to create a new Apple ID (on your iPhone, navigate to: Settings – iTunes & App Store – Apple ID – “Sign Out” – Then Create New ID). This will ensure all new messages, emails, etc. will only be accessible to you through your new Apple ID and iCloud account. This solution, however, only affects new or incoming data and will not erase your old data through the shared Apple ID. If you are still cooperative or on good terms with your former partner, you should work together to transfer any media between your two phones and verify that you are each now using separate Apple ID’s.

A shared Apple ID can add unnecessary stress and frustration to the divorce process. Taking the time to review your Apple ID settings may prevent those uncomfortable situations.

This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax or legal advice.