Recent articles confirm that data disclosing the identities of
the "anonymous" users of the website Ashley Madison (a
website that facilitates and encourages partners being unfaithful
to each other), has been leaked online.
Many of these articles speculate that, as a consequence of that
information, there will be a serious spike in the amount of family
law matters as people learn that their spouse/partner has been
In circumstances where Ashley Madison advertises itself as
having 37,565,000 anonymous members, there may well be some truth
to the claims. What people may be surprised (and disappointed) to
learn, however, even if there is an influx of family law matters,
and the release of the Ashley Madison data is the reason for it,
the fact that a person has been using the website bears little, if
any, relevance to family law matters.
Since 1975, Australia has been a "no fault"
jurisdiction. What this means is that, unlike the United States for
example, it's unnecessary to demonstrate to the Court that that
one or both parties are at fault in order to dissolve a
The parties just need to have been separated for 12 months with
no prospects of reconciliation. People often believe that
unfaithfulness is in some way, disentitling behaviour when it comes
to spending time with the children – that's not the case.
The Court's paramount consideration is the best interests of
the children (and unless they have been exposed to some form of
unsavoury behaviour, it's unlikely that a person being
unfaithful affects the best interests of the children – at
least as far as the Court is concerned).
In relation to property matters, there is no impact upon the way
in which assets are divided by one person or another's
unfaithfulness to their spouse (unless there has been extravagant
spending on the third party).
In my experience, unfaithfulness is not the main reason that
parties separate. It's certainly one of them, but stands
alongside factors such as money difficulties, children, complacency
in a marriage and the interference of an extended family.
I have no doubt however that there are over 37 million concerned
people who are right now wondering how the Ashley Madison hack will
affect their personal lives. Marriages may indeed end as a
consequence. However, use of that information to determine what
should happen with arrangements for children, or how property
should be divided, is likely to have little impact on the way in
which that family law matter is decided.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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