The Affect Of ASHLEY-MADISON Customer Release On Divorce Cases In Pennsylvania

photodune-2399663-divorce-xsAshley-Madison is an online dating/social networking service that markets specifically to married individuals or those in a committed relationship. The site has more than 124 million visitors each month. On July 15, 2015, the site was hacked and customer data, including names, home addresses, sexual fantasy information, and credit card information, was stolen. The first round of customer names was released on July 15, 2015; several other releases followed. It appears approximately 39 million users have had their information and identities compromised.

How will this breach of Ashley Madison information effect divorces in Pennsylvania? The disclosure of membership status on the site may lead the non-website participating spouse to file a fault ground divorce complaint, alleging adultery. Unfortunately, proof of membership on the site may not be enough, as most adultery claims require an action of adultery, not just its intent, in order to be successful. Furthermore, as the site invented fake profiles for women looking for affairs (as there is a disproportionate male to female user ratio) if it is discovered that the website participating spouse was involved in a “relationship,” with a non-existent person, the adultery ground will most certainly become moot. If the adultery ground proves unsuccessful, the non-website participating spouse could file a fault ground divorce under an indignities ground. In this type of action, the spouse would have to prove that his or her life became “burdensome and intolerable,” due to the website participating spouse’s membership and the subsequent notoriety status it created.

As for assets, in Pennsylvania, there will be no effect on the division of the parties’ marital assets as a result of a spouse’s membership status with Ashley Madison, as fault is not a factor a judge may consider when determining the division of assets between spouses. Judges may, however, review and consider the amount of marital assets a cheating spouse expended on an affair and use that against the cheating spouse when determining a division of marital assets. The act of depleting marital assets to subsidize an affair is known as a dissipation of marital assets. As the site works on a “credit” basis, it is hard to assess whether a “regular membership” in the site will rise to this level, however, the site does have a higher level membership, affording those clients with “priority” communication status, which most certainly will include a higher membership fee.

Finally, in Pennsylvania, a judge must consider fault grounds when determining the appropriateness of an alimony award. As such, the adulterous spouse may find himself or herself obligated to pay alimony, long after Ashley Madison ceases to be a household name.

If you have any questions about this, or divorce in general, please contact us at 610.945.9456 or jwf@jimfloodlaw.com.

Posted on August 29, 2015, in Custody, Divorce, Family Law, Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Affect Of ASHLEY-MADISON Customer Release On Divorce Cases In Pennsylvania.

Comments are closed.