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What effect might an Ashley Madison account have in divorce?

There was a nearly audible nationwide gasp earlier this summer when the story broke that hackers had gotten hold of and released contact information about users of the Ashley Madison website.

Some of those catch breaths surely came from people who couldn't believe that there is actually a website dedicated to helping married people cheat on their spouses. But a lot of them probably also came from some of the 37 million individuals whose emails got leaked to the public.

Based on at least one report in the wake of the revelation, it's apparent that the disclosures have caused a lot of anxiety among people wondering what effect the events might have on any divorce proceeding that might result. The answer to many such questions for readers in Louisiana may be that it won't make much difference. To be sure, however, it would be wise to check with an attorney you can trust.

Getting caught in cheating mode is not the nail in the coffin it might have been a few decades ago. The cheated upon spouse may feel a certain righteous indignation over what has happened, but in most states no-fault or uncontested divorce is the norm. That means the courts don't care why a couple is splitting.

As one observer notes, getting caught in the act may provide a certain amount of guilt leverage to the "wronged" party. But using that leverage or bowing to it could lead to a settlement that's doomed to failure.

A cheating heart within the context of no-fault divorce also means you can't expect to receive a financial windfall from an Ashley Madison subscriber. If money that should have been going to your marriage was used to advance the cheater's affair, you might get some of that money back. Usually, though, the goal is focused on achieving an equitable distribution of marital assets.

"Unconventional" sexual preferences listed on an Ashley Madison's profile aren't likely to sway the court into making judgments about the offending spouse's parenting ability, either. But again, it's something to assess with the help of legal counsel.

It's good to remember that waging a scorching legal fight comes at an emotional and financial cost. And it's a cost that is shared by both parties, not just one.

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