Leslie A. Farber
The Ashley Madison Fallout
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
Ashley Madison is a global online dating site offering privacy to married individuals looking to have affairs. At the time of the hack the site had about 36 million users. Although the site advertised SSL security, their data was hacked by the “The Impact Team who threatened to release information about the users if the site was not shut down immediately. For many, the breach meant their lives were turned upside down, the cheaters living in fear of being exposed and the image they had built of themselves destroyed.
For those caught in the controversy, either as cheater or cheated on, what to do next is an important decision. It is never to early to have a clear understanding about all your options, but if you just found out, it is too early to make any major decisions about ending your marriage.
You should seek counseling. Don’t try to get through this alone. You need someone you can talk to openly and honestly. And even though you are going through an emotionally stressful situation, it is important to pay attention to the realities of daily life. Take a look at your finances, housing situation, child care, etc. Have a conversation with a lawyer. You need to know what your options are and how they will play out if you decide to seek a legal separation or divorce.
Couples therapy is often a good way to try and reconcile any differences. A relatively new short term process called, “discernment counseling”, can be a good first step. It focuses on sorting things out. Do you want to work on saving the marriage? If yes, you can then move on to more traditional couple’s therapy. However, if you decide to divorce, you will probably need a lawyer.
The basic steps in the divorce process are:
Filing a complaint – this is filed with the Superior Count in your count and includes the grounds for divorce.
Case Management – these are conversations with the court (about property, child support, alimony, child custody, parenting time, etc.) that determine how the negotiations will proceed and result in Case Management Orders. These orders formalize what needs to be accomplished. These can include: real estate appraisals; financial information and personality assessments.
Discovery - this is when the Case Management orders are followed. This is when you and your attorney will be discussing the things to be negotiated with the other side. If you can work out an agreement with your spouse during this time, the paperwork is completed and you can appear in court to finalize the divorce.
Early Settlement Panel (ESP) - If you did not come to an agreement in discovery, the court will set a date for you to come before this panel. You, your attorney, your spouse and his attorney will meet with two impartial divorce lawyers. These impartial lawyers will make recommendations on how to settle your differences. If you both accept, you can finalize your divorce that day.
Economic Mediation - if you are unable to accept the recommendations of the ESP, you will move on to Economic Mediation. These recommendations are not binding, but if you accept them, the attorney’s can then draft an agreement.
Trial - if you do not accept the recommendations of the Economic Mediation, you will have to go to trial. This is a time consuming process and costly last step. The judge will hear all the facts, make the final as yet unresolved decisions, and finalize the divorce.
Divorce can be messy and complicated. If you are faced with divorce or just have questions, please reach out to us.