Membership of Notorious Ashley Madison Website Not Proof of Adultery Says Pictons
The recent hacking of the infamous and so called ‘adulterers website’ Ashley Madison, where members were named and subsequently shamed, may have caused more than one separation or divorce but membership alone would not provide proof of adulterous behaviour in a court of law?
While there would undoubtedly have been many heated conversations between partners and spouses if their names were revealed on the exposed list of members, without a confession or actual proof of adultery anyone demanding a divorce on the grounds of adultery might not have found it as straightforward as they thought.
Amy Chesterfield, a family law specialist at leading regional law firm, the award winning Pictons, says “The issue is essentially what a client would be advised if they wanted to petition for divorce based on the other person’s adultery. This has to be actual penetrative sexual activity and so membership of the Ashley Madison website is not evidence of this. It would be virtually impossible to prove adultery because getting the evidence is so difficult!
“If a client suspects that their other half has cheated, they often want to petition on the grounds of adultery but often this is not the right step unless the other person will admit the adultery in the court papers. If there is no evidence of the adultery and the other person will not admit the adultery then the better option is to petition on the basis of the other person’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
“In this situation the divorce petitioner only needs to give around four or five examples of the other’s behaviour during the marriage that they found to be ‘unreasonable’. The test is subjective and there is no requirement for the petitioner to prove the examples or for the respondent to admit them. In fact the respondent can deny that they behaved unreasonably but the divorce can still proceed. Membership of Ashley Madison could be included within an unreasonable behaviour petition, as can ‘inappropriate relationships’ because it is all about how the other person’s behaviour made the petitioner feel, such as insecure, rejected or unloved, but you need to be careful not to mention ‘adultery’ or the names of any third parties.
“While we can understand that finding out that your partner is a member of an adultery promoting website is both shocking and deeply upsetting, we would advise, as we always do, that couples talk it through first or get some professional advice before making any life changing decisions.” ”