The Ashley Madison hack and the impact of privacy issues and social media on divorce cases

As divorce lawyers, our clients normally tell us why they broke up and the reasons behind it. When I first started practicing about 20 years ago private investigators or a friend were often the ones who would find out if one party was having an affair. Today the situation is quite different. The Ashley Madison hack highlights the dangers of the overlap between your private and work lives. It may make partners more suspicious of affairs given the numbers involved.  

Lessons from Ashley Madison from a divorce lawyer: 

Have separate work from personal email accounts. Using your work email for private purposes can have serious consequences for your employment or reputation.

  1. Disclose private information to trusted and private sources only.
  2. Assume information may be hacked by some source.
  3. As an employer- do you monitor email accounts of your employees?
  4. Many divorcee clients have become very large users of social media, and used that social media instead of communicating with their partners.

Common examples we come across:

  • Photographs of the guilty party and/or their partner are found on the phone/computer stored in the cloud.
  • Shared passwords enable the innocent party to find out details about the other having an affair or pornography on the internet.
  • Posting revealing information on Facebook that was not meant for the other party or is passed on to them by a friend.
  • Spending more time on social media than with another person is often a sign of an affair taking place.
  • Technology allows texts, emails, Facebook posts to be kept for so long it is a massive paper trail of distrust.


It is extremely hard to permanently delete a remark that is made on social media.   Advice Social media is not private. Separate email addresses and passwords are needed to ensure your privacy is protected from the other party or even your employer.   Note: A US study in 2011 and 2012 found a link between social media use and decrease of marriage quality in every model they analysed. A model from an individual survey predicted that someone who does not use social media is over 11% happier in his or her marriage than a heavy social media user.