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If Ashley Madison list goes public, will divorce rate spike?

News of a major hack into the website of Ashley Madison has spread across Florida and throughout the nation. The company has built a thriving business on connecting married spouses with individuals who are willing to cheat with regard to their own vows, although many of those people are now at risk of their account information becoming publicly available. Those behind the hack are threatening to release the personal information of Ashley Madison's clients, both past and present. That could lead to an increase in divorce filings, as spouses learn that their partners have been searching online for opportunities to cheat.

While learning of an affair may prompt some spouses to seek a divorce, it is unlikely to play a major role within the divorce itself. That is because most states, including Florida, have "no-fault" laws in which a couple can seek divorce without giving a reason for the split. In those cases, infidelity will only become an issue in certain cases.

An example is found in a divorce in which one spouse's cheating can be proven to have a negative impact on shared children. If a spouse has brought his or her paramour into the presence of the children, or has spent time engaging in cheating while he or she was supposed to be caring for the children, the affair could be brought up within the child custody portion of a divorce. This is especially true if the new love interest is in any way unfit to be around the children.

As for the property division portion of a Florida divorce, infidelity will most likely have little impact on the final outcome. Marital wealth is divided according to a set of mathematical formulas, and is not generally affected by the bad behavior of one spouse or the other. While the Ashley Madison hack could lead some spouses to seek divorce, it is unlikely that proof of having a past or present account with the morally questionable dating service will factor into the division of marital wealth.

Source: Forbes, "Ashley Madison Hack Would Mean 'Boon for Divorce Lawyers and Marriage Therapists'", Emma Johnson, July 20, 2015

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