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Ashley Madison in Florida Divorce Cases

By now you have certainly seen at least one headline stating that private data from Ashley Madison, a web-based service that assists married people to cheat on their spouse, was released to the public. Reports suggest that the information includes names, email addresses, credit card information, and sexual preferences for tens of millions of personal profiles across the country.

If you are a Florida resident, and you or your spouse are found among the lists of people who were utilizing Ashley Madison’s services, what does that mean if you or your spouse file for divorce?

No doubt, infidelity is a very common reason people file for divorce.  However, Florida remains a “no-fault” state.  Therefore, Florida courts do not generally care whether one of you cheated on the other.  But that does not mean cheating is irrelevant to your divorce.  For various reasons, infidelity can affect the outcome of the divorce.

First, if the cheating spouse wastes money on an affair, the expenditure may be deemed “intentional dissipation” or “waste” of marital assets. If so, during the equitable distribution of property, the innocent spouse may be entitled to a larger share of the remaining marital assets. Second, the amount of alimony, if awarded, may be affected by infidelity.  Third, obviously, cheating can affect the credibility of a spouse in a court proceeding.  Finally, cheating, and any other illegal behavior, may call into question the moral character of the disloyal spouse. Under Florida Law, a court’s assessment of moral character can affect how the Court assigns parental responsibility and time-sharing.

Evidence that you or your spouse utilized Ashley Madison’s service may not be admissible.  Proper foundations for the admission of evidence must be laid and, so far, the source of this information is weak at best (hackers).  On the other hand, other evidence, including credit card statements that are discoverable under Florida’s mandatory financial disclosure laws may provide evidence to prove adultery or waste of marital assets. You should consult with an attorney in your state regarding what evidence may be applicable in your case or if you have any questions about the information found in this blog post.

by

Andrew D. Wheeer is a family law, elder law and appellate attorney, and the founder of The Wheeler Firm, PA. Andrew only take cases in those practice areas in order to focus on those special areas of the law. With offices in Fort Walton Beach and Miramar Beach, Andrew represents clients throughout Okaloosa and Walton counties, and has represented more than 2,000 clients over the course of the past 15 years. Andrew attended the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, and graduated with a Juris Doctorate of law in 2002. While attending law school, Andrew was active in numerous legal writing opportunities, won awards for legal writing and was selected as a member of the Cumberland Law Review. Andrew was then accepted to the Cumberland Study Abroad Program and attended Durham University in Durham, England. Andrew also worked as a research assistant and intern for Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Over the next 15 years, Andrew represented thousands of clients in divorce, adoption, custody modification proceedings, child support contempt actions, probate litigation, and counseled clients on elder law rights, including long-term care planning and general estate planning. Andrew believes clients desire representation from attorneys who have a thorough understanding of their specific legal issues. Therefore, after beginning his career as a general practitioner, Andrew chose to focus his career on a few specific areas of law - those that affect the family. He continues to concentrate on those areas today. Andrew regularly interacts with the public by speaking to groups of people on family and elder law topics, including long-term care planning and techniques to avoid probate litigation. In 2012, Andrew began teaching seminars on adoption law through the National Business Institute, providing guidance to other attorneys on proper procedures to secure adoptions of children. Andrew is married to Regina Wheeler, with whom he has a son, and the family resides in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Andrew serves as President of the Destin Kiwanis Club and is active in the local chambers of commerce.

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