The Unintended Effects of the Ashley Madison Hack on Your Divorce

When was first hacked, there were plenty of people out there who paid very little attention; after all, unless you were using the site (or an avid listener to a certain “shock jock” who advertises for them during his show), the chances were good that you had never even heard of that website. But now that the full extent of the hack is public knowledge, all of us are starting to see the fallout.

The truth is, the Ashley Madison hack can have a far more negative impact on a user’s life than simply revealing that he or she may have cheated on a spouse. Whether this new knowledge has led to the decision to divorce, or you were already in the process of dissolving your marriage, you now have some other problems to consider:

  • Your banking and credit card information is out on the Web for hackers to find. A lot of the controversy surrounding the hack has focused on making uninformed moral judgements about people – but there is a far more sinister element at work. Your personal information and credit card accounts are now open and available to hackers all over the world. You entire identity could be at risk because of it.
  • Your kids are about to find out. If your children spend any time online at all, chances are they already know that you or your spouse were affected by the hack. Whatever plans you may have had to break the news of your divorce gently to your children are gone. We talked about the effects that humiliation can have on divorcing spouses, but that same humiliation can affect your children (and potentially sway a Maryland family law judge’s decisions regarding custody) as well.
  • You could lose your job. A number of employers – like the State of Maryland – require employees to sign an ethics clause. The Ashley Madison hack could reveal that you have violated the terms of that clause, which could leave you out of a job. People who have security clearances could find themselves having difficulty with their security unit which will surely look at the Ashley Madison information in evaluating a security clearance. If you have alimony or child support payments to make, you may need to petition for a modification of your divorce decree to avoid falling behind (or going to jail).

What you do with your private life is your own business. Although it is 2015, the lifestyle on the Ashley Madison website is outside the “mainstream” of adultery and the Ashley Madison hack may have put that business out into the world. You could face some long-term repercussions because of it, even if you and your spouse decide not to dissolve your marriage as a result. We want everyone to be aware of the damage the hack could have on their lives, so that you can take the proper steps to protect yourself and your family.

Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC is an Annapolis-based family law firm serving clients throughout the state of Maryland. If you have been affected by the Ashley Madison hack, or if you and your spouse are considering a divorce, please contact our firm to reserve a consultation time at our office.