By now you have certainly seen at least one headline stating that private data from Ashley Madison, a web-based service that assists married people to cheat on their spouse, was released to the public. Reports suggest that the information includes names, email addresses, credit card information, and sexual preferences for tens of millions of personal profiles across the country.
If you are a Florida resident, and you or your spouse are found among the lists of people who were utilizing Ashley Madison’s services, what does that mean if you or your spouse file for divorce?
No doubt, infidelity is a very common reason people file for divorce. However, Florida remains a “no-fault” state. Therefore, Florida courts do not generally care whether one of you cheated on the other. But that does not mean cheating is irrelevant to your divorce. For various reasons, infidelity can affect the outcome of the divorce.
First, if the cheating spouse wastes money on an affair, the expenditure may be deemed “intentional dissipation” or “waste” of marital assets. If so, during the equitable distribution of property, the innocent spouse may be entitled to a larger share of the remaining marital assets. Second, the amount of alimony, if awarded, may be affected by infidelity. Third, obviously, cheating can affect the credibility of a spouse in a court proceeding. Finally, cheating, and any other illegal behavior, may call into question the moral character of the disloyal spouse. Under Florida Law, a court’s assessment of moral character can affect how the Court assigns parental responsibility and time-sharing.
Evidence that you or your spouse utilized Ashley Madison’s service may not be admissible. Proper foundations for the admission of evidence must be laid and, so far, the source of this information is weak at best (hackers). On the other hand, other evidence, including credit card statements that are discoverable under Florida’s mandatory financial disclosure laws may provide evidence to prove adultery or waste of marital assets. You should consult with an attorney in your state regarding what evidence may be applicable in your case or if you have any questions about the information found in this blog post.