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Ashley Madison Controversy - A spike in divorce application.

In light of the Ashley Madison data breach that exposed 35 million or so members in its database, the site is again attacked by the same hackers releasing a second data dump of information.

There is much controversy as to whether the information of infidelity discovered by a spouse in such a manner, would be admissible evidence in the family law courts.

There's no doubt that the result of the breach will spike divorce applications, particularly within the fault-based legal system like the U.S., where, evidence of infidelity impacts the determination of the party’s property distribution and/or parenting arrangements, penalising the spouse at fault and favouring the innocent spouse. Nonetheless, legal practitioners are divided as to the weight given of its significance in the courts determination of the outcome. Perhaps such decisions depend upon the discretion of the presiding Judge.

Australia on the other hand is a non-fault based legal system. This means that the Family Courts will not penalise the spouse who caused the breakdown of the marriage. The parties’ property distribution or the parenting arrangements are usually not affected by the infidelity of a party. There are certain prescribed legislative rules and procedures imposed on the parties.

Notably, infidelity regardless of the jurisdiction will likely be significant if it greatly impacts the children and/or the finances of the marriage. An example, extravagant expenditure on the extra-matrimonial activities (such as holidays, gifts, dining out, flight fares and so forth), would constitute wastage of matrimonial funds and would therefore be added back to the matrimonial pool.

Such breach would also affect any pending family law proceedings, if it is found that a party has lied in their legal documents such as not spending funds on extra-marital activities or not disclosing an affair where wastage has occurred at the detriment of the matrimonial finances. If that person is discovered to be a client of Ashley Madison, then such discovery will surely raise questions as to that person’s credibility before the court.

Before taking any legal action, we recommend that you consult a legal practitioner to know your rights and options available. Contact us to discuss or book an appointment for an initial consultation with us.

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