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The Hacking of Ashley Madison: Evidence of Adultery?

For those of you living under a rock who still haven’t heard of it, Ashley Madison is the adulterer’s website, where people in relationships already can sign up and meet likeminded people who want to engage in extra-marital affairs.  There are 37 million subscribers across the world including, apparently, 1,000,000 from the UK and it’s been hacked.  The hackers have already released some personal data stolen from the site and are threatening to release more.  Cue some very anxious people sitting across the breakfast table from their spouses.

But what does this mean if you are a subscriber to the site and data is released about you?  Could this be used as evidence for an adultery-based divorce by your spouse?   Maybe, but not necessarily. 

To get down to the nitty-gritty, in the UK the legal definition of adultery is one party to the marriage having sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex other than their spouse. Adultery is not going out for an elicit dinner with someone who is not your spouse, engaging in text message flirtations or even signing up to an adulterer’s website. After all, a window shopper does not make a customer. So depending on the level of detail of the data released by the hackers, simply being a subscriber does not necessarily constitute evidence of adultery.

But…signing up to such a site could be used as evidence of unreasonable behaviour and a behaviour-based divorce issued instead.

For further help or advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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