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Can Divorce Lawyers Benefit From Ashley Madison Leaks?

Hackers have released nearly 10GB of stolen data from cheating site Ashley Madison, but can that information be used in potential divorce cases?
Posted at 11:28 PM, Aug 18, 2015

Tuesday, hackers identified as "Impact Team" released the private information of nearly 40 million users of cheating-site Ashley Madison. Now, if you're like us, you might think divorce lawyers are about to have a field day with this leak. 

"If there are laws in the state about committing adultery and that being a basis for divorce, I would imagine this would fall right into this caveat," divorce attorney Michael Beyda told CNN.

But there are some caveats there. CNN's guest explained the U.S. has no-fault divorces and fault divorces, and information from the leak is only useful for the latter — and only if the accusing party could prove their spouse cheated. 

"For example, where I practice in Pennsylvania, for adultery, you have to prove sexual intercourse. ... That is a tall order to fill, usually, to prove in a court of law," family attorney William Phelan told divorce website

"Seeing somebody's spouse on the website, they could sue and say ... They wouldn't even have proof of adultery," attorney Nancy Chemtob told The Street

Impact Team's nearly 10GB data dump reportedly includes names, email addresses, phone numbers, descriptions of what users are looking for and credit card information. 

But none of that proves married users on the site actually went through with the affair. Still, adultery isn't the only grounds for divorce, and information from the website could help spouses prove marital misconduct in other ways. (Video via Ashley Madison

Another attorney tells CNBC, in many courts, extra-marital affairs only matter if a person has spent money shared between spouses on non-marriage activities. She says, "The $19 fee that the spouse spent on the 'Full Delete' service for the Ashley Madison site will be considered marital waste (as would any other monies spent on the site and the monies spent on the hotels, etc.) and that would be a credit back to the marital pot."

But $19 hardly sounds worth the hassle when just filing for divorce could cost hundreds of dollars. Ashley Madison said in a statement Tuesday, "We will continue to put forth substantial efforts into removing any information unlawfully released to the public, as well as continuing to operate our business."

This video includes images from Getty Images.