The Ashley Madison Effect: 5 Things You Should Know About Divorcing On Adultery in NI

‘Life is Short. Have an Affair’

This is the slogan that has featured heavily in the media in the past few weeks.

Its aim?? Quite simply to draw people onto a Canadian-based dating website called ‘Ashley Madison’, a website which is marketed towards people who are married or in a committed relationship who wish to commit adultery.

In a technology obsessed world, it now seems that it may actually be possible to start an adulterous relationship from the comfort of your own home. The mind truly boggles!

Though on a serious note, what things should unsuspecting (or indeed suspecting) spouses/civil partners know if they catch their other half on a website such as this?

Here are a few pointers:-

1.  Chatting online is not proof of adultery

Catching your spouse on a dating website is not enough in itself to prove to a Court that they have committed adultery for the purpose of divorce proceedings. Some people may be surprised to discover that in order to rely on adultery you actually need to provide proof to the Court that your spouse has had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.

Chatting on dating websites may, however, be enough to prove to that your spouse has been behaving unreasonably towards you – for example, it can be used to show a Court that they have been leading the life of a single person or in fact that they have been having an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with another person.

2.  An admission of adultery is often enough for the Court

If upon being confronted, your spouse admits to having committed adultery, this may be enough evidence to file for divorce on the grounds of their adultery.

3. You can ask the Court to make your spouse pay for the divorce

If you successfully file for divorce on the ground of your spouse’s adultery, or even on the ground that their behaviour is unreasonable, you can ask the Court to make an Order for legal costs against your spouse. Essentially you would be claiming that because the marriage breakdown was the fault of your spouse they should pay your legal costs in getting a divorce. Whilst this may not ease the heartache caused, it may relieve the financial burden of ending the relationship.

4. You can name the third party in divorce proceedings if you wish to

If you file for divorce on the ground of your spouse’s adultery, you have the option to name the other party involved in the divorce proceedings. They would then be named on all of the divorce papers and may also be ordered to pay towards the costs of your divorce.

5. Forgiving adultery may mean that you can’t rely on it for divorce

If, after discovering that your spouse committed adultery, you resume married life and continue to live with your spouse for more than six months after discovering the affair, you may not be able to rely on the ground of adultery in the future should things not work out between you. This is because you may be seen to have condoned or forgiven your spouse’s behaviour and therefore you can’t later seek to rely on it.

We all hope that adultery and infidelity will never darken the door of our own relationships and that all we need to worry about is whose turn it is to wash the dishes! However, if you do need information or assistance in relation to any aspect of divorce or relationship breakdown, you can seek confidential advice from an experienced solicitor in this area to guide you through your options.

As always, we appreciate your comments on this topic.  If you do need any further information, please contact Karen or Claire