The ever evolving world of technology has led our society to some amazing advances in efficiency, green resources, health benefits and education.  Technology also changed the ways in which humans interact through social media platforms, creating a new kind of connectivity.  For instance, the dating world has expanded through online dating websites.  While many may tout the benefits of constant interaction and access to a greater population of people, there have been some negatives too.  A new kind of marital misconduct has recently been in the news as a result of a different kind of dating service.  Ashley Madison, a website boasting the “world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters” was hacked.  The identities of the website’s members were published after the hackers threatened to release the identities of those using the website whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.”  On August 18, 2015, the hackers dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data obtained from the website.  For those users in Pennsylvania whose infidelity leads to a divorce, it is important to gain perspective from a divorce lawyer on the subject of martial misconduct. They can expect the issue of marital misconduct to be raised in a number of potential ways.

 

While marital misconduct is not a factor when considering the division of marital assets and liabilities, a spouse may request reimbursement for non-marital activities engaged in by their spouse.  For instance, a spouse may request reimbursement for the cheater’s website subscription during the marriage and any marital money spent on dates or activities outside of the marriage. The legal theory under which a spouse is repaid for non-marital expenditures is called equitable reimbursement.

Marital misconduct is a factor to consider in determining whether alimony is necessary, as well as the amount, and for determining the  duration of payment.  Note that only marital misconduct during the marriage until the final date of separation is considered.  After parties are separated, they are free to date as they see fit without any consideration in equitable distribution proceedings.

Finally, Pennsylvania still maintains a fault-based system of divorce in addition to the no fault system. Therefore, spouses should be aware that their marital misconduct may lead to a fault-based filing for divorce.

The recent Ashley Madison hack is a warning to anyone who has been lulled into a false sense of security by privacy policies and promises of anonymity.  This is a reminder that the internet is a very permanent place.  What you post on the internet can potentially be used against you in a divorce case.