Donna Dougherty Law P.C.

Spike in divorce may be imminent due to cheating site data breach

A divorce is rarely a simple, straightforward process, especially for any high-profile couple in Virginia. There are usually numerous issues to work through in a high asset divorce, including the division of marital property, spousal support and child custody. The emotional impact of a divorce may also complicate the process, especially if something sudden and serious prompted the end of the relationship, such as finding out the other spouse had an affair.

Potentially millions of people around the world are currently dealing with the possibility of infidelity accusations and the resulting backlash, after a serious breach of data involving the customers of a widely known dating site that promoted extramarital affairs. Several weeks ago, a group of hackers threatened to expose the email addresses and other identifying information of those who had accounts with the website Ashley Madison. Recently, the group followed through with the threat and published customers’ email addresses. Thousands of the alleged cheaters were government officials and high-level business executives.

Some relationship experts predict that the upcoming weeks will see a surge in divorce filings or marriage counseling, as those who discover their spouses’ infidelity attempt to come to terms with the news. There have also been speculations about breach of privacy lawsuits against Avid Life Media, the company that operates Ashley Madison. Some of those whose emails were published may face additional consequences if they used company or military emails to register with the site. There may even be disputes over whether or not a person really did have an account with the cheating website; some have claimed that their email addresses were used without their knowledge.

This incident was so recent that we have not yet seen the full ramifications. One thing is certain: In today’s digital age, many people have developed a false sense of security when it comes to concealing their affairs.

Source: Reuters, "Hacker's Ashley Madison data dump threatens marriages, reputations," Josephine Mason and Alastair Sharp, Aug 19, 2015

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