Tim: Welcome to another edition of Bouschor Family Law Radio with David Bouschor. David, today one of the big stories that are out there is the Ashley Madison scandal and the fact that names have been released. If you suspect your name is on that list, what should you do?
David: Well, in all reality there are hundreds of thousands of names and pieces of information that have been released. But if you are concerned about it, one should go to an attorney and get educated on what the ramifications may be if your name is out and your spouse acts less than favorably towards you being on it.
Tim: And I guess one of the questions that you might want to ask is, should you tell your spouse that your name might be on that list?
David: Well this is one of those things that you probably want to go and get educated in and find out what the ramifications are prior to telling your spouse. But it also depends on how well you know your spouse and what you believe their reactions would be. But if you misread that and you are confronted with a petition for divorce, you are already behind on your education curve to know what your next move is.
Tim: Now the other side of the coin: if you suspect your spouse might be on that list, what should you do?
David: Well, quite frankly, you need to ask yourself what you’re going to do if the name shows up. And if it’s something you can work with your spouse on these things, or if you want to talk with your spouse and let them explain to you why their name is on it, all that is a viable option. However, if you are in the position that you think that you would end your marriage if your spouse’s name is on there, once again the property issues and the children issues in a divorce are quite complicated, and most people, not having been through a divorce, or maybe only being through one divorce, are not really equipped with the education that they need to start making decisions. And always you’re better off making an informed decision than an ill-informed decision, and the only place you are going to get that kind of information is from a divorce attorney.
Tim: It has to be shocking for a spouse to discover that their spouse may have been trolling somehow on the Ashley Madison site and might have taken some kind of an action as Ashley Madison says, “Life is too short… have an affair,” that their spouse would have done that.
David: Well I’m sure it’s very shocking to most people to find a name on there; however, I suspect just because the name is on there doesn’t mean there has actually been an affair. It may have been curiosity–there may be a lot of logical reasons for it. However, in an area of adultery and affairs, the ability to trust your spouse and what they are telling you about it may be limited. So once again, this really comes down to what your reaction is going to be and what you’re going to do if you see a name on there and if you believe that would ultimately end up in you filing for divorce or breaking up your marital relationship. There are a lot of things to be considered.
Tim: In terms of a divorce, adultery may be the cause of the divorce, but it’s not going to make that big of a difference with the judges, is that right?
David: In Texas adultery is grounds for divorce. And it has been grounds for divorce I think ever since there’s been a family code. However, adultery is present in almost every divorce, and the judges are in a position that, if there is a paramour on one side or the other, the day after they’re divorced, that relationship is going to continue and basically the marriage is over. So the crux of it is, while it is grounds for divorce, unless you have very bad behavior that’s very public or has hurt the children, judges just don’t get too excited about it.
Tim: And that may be hard to hear for some potential clients, but it’s sort of the reality of what it looks like once you enter into the divorce process.
David: Well, I agree with that, and I think you will have some attorneys that will tell you, “Yes, we will go get your pound of flesh.” However in my experience, which has been twenty plus years, in most cases if you are pursuing a claim of adultery without any other bad behavior, you’re spending a lot of money, you’re creating a lot of ill will, you’re not going to get a bigger property division, and if you have children and need a future relationship with your soon to be ex-spouse you haven’t helped that.
Tim: Well I guess coming back to the Ashley Madison story, bottom line first thing that someone should do if they think they are on the list or if they think that their spouse might be on the list is to pick up the phone and get some good advice.
David: Absolutely, because the property laws, the divorce family laws, the laws that have to do with custody of the children, are all very complicated, and what somebody’s rights are, what somebody’s expected outcome from a divorce is just not information that people have in their pocket.
Tim: Alright this has been another addition of Bouschor Family Law Radio.