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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Could the Latest AshleyMadison.com Hack Provide Divorce Litigants With Admissible Evidence?

I have proof my spouse is cheating. Can I use this to gain leverage in my divorce proceeding? 

There are a couple different ways to go about a divorce in Texas. Most commonly, spouses opt for the less-intensive “no fault” divorce option, which allows the petitioning spouse to cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split. Historically, however, a spouse seeking a divorce needed to have grounds to do so, and had to essentially “sue” their partner in court, prove the allegations, and “win” their case in order to obtain the divorce. 

Today, the vast majority of Texans opt for the no fault divorce route, however a fault-based divorce option is still available pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code § 6.001 - 6.007. Under this code section, a spouse may seek divorce based on any of the following: 
• Insupportability;
• Cruelty;
• Adultery;
• Conviction of a felony;
• Abandonment;
• Living apart; and/ or
• Confinement in a mental institution.
In order to successfully sustain a divorce petition under one of these grounds, the petitioning spouse must present sufficient evidence that the issue is occurring, which may be accomplished through the use of social media or evidence of electronic communication between the cheating spouses and the alleged paramour. 

Impact of AshleyMadison.com hack

While the fallout from the AshleyMadison.com hack remains to be seen, any evidence that a spouse has signed up for the site and engaged in an extramarital affair may be admissible against that spouse in a fault-based divorce action citing adultery. If the non-cheating spouse obtains the information in a lawful way, preserves the evidence properly and that spouse can properly authenticate it during the hearing, it is quite possible the court will allow evidence of site membership as possibly inferring adultery. There are a number of evidentiary and procedural hurdles to overcome, however, and an experienced family law attorney in Texas can help prepare a spouse for the potential obstacles of divorce litigation. 

If you are contemplating divorce or have questions about the best way to proceed, please contact the family law professionals at Stinson Moyle in Austin, Texas today! Call (512) 320-9070. 



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