Hackers who stole private customer info from the extramarital dating site AshleyMadison.com just released nearly 10 gigabytes of user information from the July security breach. Wired reports that the data has been released on the dark web. The data dump includes customer log-ins, plus "credit card and other payment transaction details" for some of the site's 40 million users.
If millions of cheaters are outed, how could their spouses use this is illegally obtained information to initiate a divorce?
A spouse does not need proof of infidelity to initiate a divorce. However, a spouse in the midst of a divorce litigation can use this information in court to try to prove infidelity, support marital waste arguments as well as to impeach credibility.
Would simply being a member of Ashley Madison be enough proof of infidelity or would there need to be more evidence of correspondence between members to prove marital infidelity?
Again, you do not need to prove infidelity to get divorced any longer, but should someone chose to divorce on the ground of adultery then I would not necessarily think that being a member would be enough to prove adultery. You may have someone who is just "browsing". That said, I would not think that excuse would hold much weight with your spouse when explaining why your name is on the Ashley Madison client list.
As millions of cheaters appear to have been outed publicly, do you believe that we could witness one of the largest & unprecedented waves of divorce filings in history?
I do not think the divorce waves will happen instantaneously. Many couples try to overcome extra-marital affairs and I imagine some are successful. However, for those that are not, the relationship deteriorates over time. If the relationship was already weak (which may have been one of the reasons that the spouse reasons for being on the website to begin with), then this discovery could push the marriage over the breaking point. I think there will be a huge amount of initial consultations but the actual divorce filings attributable to this event will be spread over years. I do think that marriage counselors will become quite busy!
What should we learn from this?
I think people should learn from this scenario that nothing done on the internet is ever sacred. Assume that every social media post, indiscreet purchase and dating website will be able to found somehow/someday.
New York based Jacqueline Newman is a Family Law Attorney & Managing Partner at Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd in NYC. Ms. Newman's practice consists of litigation, collaborative law and mediation. Jacqueline specializes in complex high net worth matrimonial cases and negotiating prenuptial agreements. She has appeared as a commentator on various television shows and has been quoted as an expert in numerous publications, including Glamour Magazine, Crain's New York Business, U.S. News and World Report, Woman's Day and The Huffington Post.