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The Ashley Madison Fallout: Can Cheating Affect My Divorce?

cheating, infidelity, Illinois divorce attorneyOver the last several months, divorce attorneys across the country have been bracing themselves for a marked increase in divorce filings in the wake of the highly-publicized leak of subscriber data from the affair-seeking website Ashley Madison. Earlier in the summer, hackers leaked the personal and subscription information for some 37 million users, raising not only privacy fears but exposing millions of would-be cheaters. In many marriages, infidelity represents a symptom of much deeper problems, but is often the breaking point at which divorce becomes the best option.

Whether your spouse’s name was among the list of Ashley Madison users or he or she has admitted to an affair unrelated to the infamous hack, you may be wondering how his or her actions will be taken into account during the divorce process. Does it even make a difference?  Unfortunately, however, there is no clear-cut answer to this question, because, as with most aspects of divorce, the impact is dependent upon the exact circumstances of your particular case and the state within which you reside.

Marital Misconduct

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, adultery is currently grounds for an at-fault divorce—but only for a couple more months. Beginning in 2016, fault divorce is being eliminated in Illinois, and all divorces will be granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences. In practice, though, if you want a divorce due to infidelity, your marriage has probably deteriorated beyond repair and your differences most likely are, in fact, irreconcilable.

The law also provides, however, that the marital misconduct of either spouse, including cheating, cannot be considered by the court when dividing marital property or determining a spousal maintenance award. A presiding judge is responsible for making financial and familial best interest determinations, not punishing a party or making decisions of marital morality. Your spouse’s personal guilt, on the other hand, may make him or her more willing to agree to certain requests made during negotiations. It is important to find the right balance for your situation and your attorney can help you develop a reasonable resolution.

Dissipation Exception

Strictly from a financial perspective, you may be able to argue that your spouse was inappropriately spending marital funds on his or her affair, which he or she would be required to pay back to the marital estate. To do so, you will need to show that the marriage was already breaking down and that your spouse was using your marital funds in unreasonable ways not in the best interest of the marriage. Credit card statements showing Ashley Madison subscriber fees, for example, may be used as evidence, as could receipts from hotel stays or gifts.

If you have recently discovered that your spouse has been cheating, it is important to understand all of your available options under the law. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Kane County for help reviewing your case. We will work with you in finding the best course action and will assist you in protecting your rights. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule your free initial consultation today.



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