What is Ashley Madison?
Ashley Madison is an online dating service for people who are married.
Yes, you read that correctly: it is a dating service which functions like
any other dating service, except it helps people cheat. Founded in 2001,
the website’s slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.”
What is the Ashley Madison Hack Scandal?
Ashley Madison has made recent headlines for reasons other than its unique
and controversial marketing angle, however. The site was the victim of
a recent data hack. A group of hackers who call themselves “The
Impact Team” accessed Ashley Madison’s entire customer base.
They have been threatening to release the names and information of its
users–and yesterday, they did.
How Can the Ashley Madison Hack Impact You?
In many states, adultery has an impact on whether and how a couple
divorces. These states recognize fault-based “grounds” for divorce.
Frequently, adultery is accepted as a good enough reason to allow a couple
to divorce. These states may go even farther by punishing an adulterous
spouse by a change in alimony (called “maintenance” in Colorado)
or property division.
However, Colorado is a no-fault state, which means that the court does
not care about
why a marriage failed. The court will not consider any evidence of marital
misconduct. If one spouse can convince a judge that the marriage is “irretrievably
broken” (meaning, the relationship cannot be saved), the judge will
grant the divorce. In fact, Colorado law explicitly says that maintenance
must be determined “without regard to marital misconduct.”
The court can and will consider all relevant factors when making a maintenance
award including, but not limited to:
- The financial status of the party seeking maintenance;
- The time necessary to gain employment or establish earning capacity;
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and the health condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or
her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
As you probably noticed, none of these factors have anything to do with
marital misconduct like adultery. Most importantly, courts must decide
maintenance issues “equitably,” which means their decisions
must be fair and reasonable.
There is a Loop Hole to "No Fault"
There is one exception to this rule, but it is a very narrow one. If a
spouse commits marital misconduct and the misconduct has economic repercussions
on the marriage, the misconduct may be considered by the court when it
awards maintenance or divides property. For example, if an adulterous
spouse empties a joint bank account to purchase gifts or vacations for
an extramarital lover, that fact could be held against the adulterous
spouse when it comes to the maintenance award.
None of this is to say that the evidence from the Ashley Madison is not
“discoverable,” meaning it can come into evidence during trial
if deemed relevant. Electronic evidence is discoverable and cannot be
“spoiled” (meaning destroyed). The question will come down
to whether a judge believes the evidence from the Ashley Madison site
is relevant to the case.
Bottom line, it is assumed by many that the Ashley Madison hack will CAUSE
many divorces, but whether it will come into evidence during your divorce
is to be determined.
If you have any questions about divorce, maintenance, or how the Ashley
Madison hack may impact your divorce,
contact attorney Meagan Moodie today.
Please note that
nothing presented on this website is intended to be legal advice. Every situation
and every client’s legal matter is different and this website is
merely meant to provide information to the public. Nor does this website
create an attorney-client relationship – an attorney-client relationship
has not been formed
until a signed fee agreement has been made. If you want legal advice or have questions regarding a divorce,
contact us to speak with an attorney.