Ashley Madison: A Potential Divorce Time Bomb

By: Jonathan Wolf

The Ashley Madison fiasco is another great example of why you want your family lawyer to be a social media expert. Over 37 million people reportedly signed up for Ashley Madison, a dating website for people specifically looking to cheat on their significant others, before it was hacked several weeks ago by a group calling itself the “Impact Team.” Hackers demanded company executives shut down the site or they would release the identities and sexual proclivities of its over 37 million users.
The site, whose slogan is “life is short, have an affair,” has become big business. The security breach couldn’t come at a worse time for Avid Life Media (Ashley Madison’s parent company), which was reportedly in the midst of shopping an initial public offering later this year. The company’s two other popular niche dating sites, Cougar Life and Established Men, were also reportedly breached.


While cyber security would be a top concern for any online business, one would think that it would be of paramount importance to one whose business model literally depends on enticing people to do something potentially life ruining. Now with Hackers and the company in a reported virtual stand off, millions of marriages could sadly hang in the balance in what could very well be a ticking divorce time bomb.


In Tennessee, adultery is proven by establishing opportunity and inclination. Gilliam v. Gilliam, 776 S.W.2d 81, 84 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1988). Further, Adultery can be proven by circumstantial evidence without direct proof of illicit intercourse. Canning vs. Canning [59 Tenn.App. 678], 443 S.W.2d 502 (Tenn.App.1968). While the hack will assuredly prompt conversations among spouses, lawyers, and cyber security experts, the Ashley Madison Fiasco isn’t just a wake-up call for the adulterous among us. Everyone should be aware that once something is published on the Internet, it is most likely out there forever.

Categories: