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How Ashley Madison has affected divorce and property division

As many Florida residents know, Ashley Madison, an online dating service targeted towards married individuals looking for an extramarital affair, was hacked recently. Due to the hack, millions of users' identities were released, which resulted in the public humiliation of many, including some high-profile individuals. Many individuals speculated about the consequences for cheaters in a divorce case, including child custody and property division.

As many have learned, the consequences for individuals who have had an extramarital affair would have been far greater according to previous family laws. For example, in the 1970s, if a spouse proved that adultery occurred, the divorce could be initiated. Now, divorce can be initiated by a spouse invoking his or her state's no-fault grounds -- irreconcilable differences, for example.

Many states, including Florida, extended the no-fault approach for property division as well. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which allows for marital assets and liabilities to be evenly divided in a divorce. However, if there is proof that one of the spouses intentionally wasted marital assets -- such as gifts or dinners for a non-marital partner -- then the court might reduce the adulterer's share of their marital assets in order to compensate his or her spouse for the waste.

This recent hack has shown that, with the rise of social media, it is becoming much easier to gather evidence of extramarital affairs. If an individual in Florida learns that his or her partner is having an extramarital affair and decides to file for divorce, they will have to agree on aspects such as property division and child custody. Many couples are able to do so amicably, but in the case that such decisions are not so easily reached, individuals typically consult an experienced divorce attorney to assist them in representing their best interests in a family court of law.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Where Ashley Madison fits into divorce law", Margaret Ryznar, Aug. 20, 2015

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