When the adultery-promoting website Ashley Madison was hacked last month, the personal account information of millions of current and former site users was released. According to the Indy Star, it appears a number of email domains listed on the spouse-cheating site were .gov domains linked to city accounts in Indiana, Carmel and Greenwood, as well as to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Correction.
Officials were careful to caution that the appearance of those emails doesn’t necessarily mean anyone signed up for the service using their work email, but an investigation was being launched nonetheless. It’s not so much a moral issue, they say, as a potential violation of government email use policy.
But whether having an account tied to the site that encourages affairs causes workers trouble with their employer, it may not have a direct effect on one’s divorce. That’s because Indiana is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce.
What that means is the reasons for one’s divorce – even if they are valid, like adultery – are not considered by the court with regard to division of assets, division of debts or child custody or parenting time.
However, this does not mean an extramarital affair is never relevant to a Gary divorce proceeding. What would be necessary to show is that the affair in some way negatively affected joint finances, debt situation or the emotional well-being of children.
Our Indiana divorce lawyers would first start with the issue of dissipation. In any divorce case in Indiana, there is the presumption that all liabilities and assets are going to be equitably divided. That presumption can be rebutted in a number of ways. For example, if one party makes significantly more income than another who stayed home to care for children, the stay-at-home parent may be entitled to a larger share of assets. Now, let’s say a cheating spouse used marital assets on an affair partner – or trying to obtain an affair partner (say, though Ashley Madison). Any finding of moneys spent for these purposes could be used as grounds to deviate from even division.
In cases involving minor children, we might analyze whether infidelity might be used to our advantage in court. It’s important to note courts do not tie a person’s fitness as a parent with his or her degree of faithfulness in a marriage. However, if the cheating spouse used poor judgment in introducing the affair partner to the children or dating a person who poses a clear risk to the children – those elements could be weighed by the court in custody and parenting time determinations.
Interestingly, in the case of Ashley Madison, some officials have noted certain accounts may reflect attempts by some people to catch their spouses in an act of infidelity, rather than actually engage in it themselves.
It would be unwise to jump to conclusions about the email addresses listed. But those who have through this hack uncovered information about their spouse they deem troubling should discuss their concerns with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you explore your options. That might not necessarily mean divorce. Some couples confronted with this kind of revelation choose this turning point to enter into a post-marital agreement. This is an opportunity for spouses to rededicate themselves to the union, with the agreement going a long way toward showing the aggrieved spouse the other is serious about putting the past behind them.
Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.
Indiana agencies, cities probe worker email addresses linked to Ashley Madison site, Aug. 21, 2015, By Justin L. Mack, USA Today
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