Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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First divorce cases set in motion following Ashley Madison leak
It is understood that the first divorce cases resulting from the much-publicised leak of data from a controversial dating website have now been set in motion.
Last week, hackers released the confidential details of the many millions of members of Ashley Madison – a site set up to facilitate affairs.
The relationship charity Relate has received a flood of calls from people who have checked online and discovered their partner had an account.
Relate counsellor Denise Knowles said: “The issue of cheating has been put firmly into the spotlight this week.
“Clearly this is bringing up lots of difficult emotions for those whose details have been released and their partners.
“Even if you haven’t been directly affected, the coverage may have prompted you to start questioning your own relationship.”
Some in the legal professional have revealed that since the data was posted online they have already started to receive enquiries, with a couple of reports of divorce petitions being filed as a direct result of the leak.
Since simply having an account may not prove beyond doubt that users have committed adultery, it is thought that many applications will instead cite unreasonable behaviour.
Although the situation is further complicated by suggestions that the dating website may have bought bulk lots of email addresses from marketing companies to make the membership seem bigger than it actually is.
This theory has been fuelled by those who are sceptical about claims that Ashley Madison has 1.2million users in the UK (if this is correct, it would effectively mean that one in every 20 adults aged 18 to 50 had signed up.)
Ashley Madison – which has the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair” – was set up in 2001 and now operates services in 39 countries. A group of hackers referring to themselves as The Impact Team had first revealed they had stolen the data last month and the information was released online last week.
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