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Ashley Madison data breach could cause more divorces (but it’s unlikely to affect how they turn out)

Posted by Matt Rooney | Aug 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Adultery plays a limited role in the New Jersey divorce process

Most of the security-related data breaches in the news these days relate to national security. This particular breach, however, implicates marital security. You may have already heard about  how AshleyMadison.com, a social networking website that functions much like a dating site but focuses on facilitating extramarital affairs, was attacked by hackers. The damage? Allegedly leaked personal information for 32 million Ashley Madison site users. Such a massive and unprecedented data breach implicates various legal issues, ranging from the obvious (criminal charges?) to the less obvious (potential civil litigation pertaining to privacy issues and breached warranties).  

A screenshot from the AshleyMadison website Since this is primarily a family law blog, our focus in necessarily on the divorce angle. Adultery could be the number one or three cause cited by divorcing couples for the end of their marriage depending upon whom you ask; one 2014 survey found 55% of divorcees blaming extramarital activities for the end of the marriage. That being said, New Jersey is a no fault divorce state. While divorce is still a valid grounds for divorce in New Jersey, all parties need show the court is irreconcilable differences, ordinarily a much cheaper (and less emotionally draining) path to achieving a final and lasting dissolution. Each of these concepts is obviously too big for any single post. For a more comprehensive look at the relationship between adultery and divorce in New Jersey, go ahead and check out this concise but informative piece from my colleague here at the firm Richard A. DeMichele, Jr. The bottom line? Unless the party not having an affair can demonstrate that the cheating party spent significant monies to develop and continue the affair, at which point the equitable distribution process could be impacted, adultery plays an almost insignificant role in all aspects of your divorce including both the financial and child custody components. A cheating spouse will not have to pay more alimony, or get to spend less time with the kids, simply because he or she cheated. For example, if your spouse spent $5,000 per month on hotel rooms for his or her extramarital rendezvous, those monies spent on the affair may be treated as marital waste by the court when deciding the division of your marital assets. There is no direct impact on alimony, however, since that analysis heavily implicates income. Moreover, our courts assume that a parent's romantic life does not directly affect that parent's ability to parent.  Of course, the end of a marriage is a stressful, confusing and, in many cases, positively overwhelming time no matter what (or who) catalyzed it. We're here to help. If you or a loved one has questions regarding the New Jersey divorce process, please contact the child custody attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele. For a confidential consultation to discuss your situation with one of our New Jersey custody attorneys, you can also call (856) 546-1350. _______

About the Author

Matt Rooney

Practice Areas: Family Law (including Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, and Domestic Violence); Municipal Court; Personal Injury; Residential Real Estate; Civil Litigation; Collections.

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