Just days after hackers exposed the names, emails, home addresses, sexual preferences, and credit card numbers of some 32 million people using extramarital affair service Ashley Madison, the first divorce got underway, according to The Times.
Relate, a relationship counseling service based in Great Britain, reportedly began receiving calls from spouses who found their partners’ information in the leak only days after it came out.
According to Relate counselor Denise Knowles, the leak brought up “lots of difficult emotions” for the partners of Ashley Madison users.
“Even if you haven’t been directly affected, the coverage may have prompted you to start questioning your own relationship,” she said.
Though Relate may have seen the first divorce, lawyers everywhere began bracing for the inevitable flood of calls when they heard the news.
“With New Mexico being a “no-fault” state, infidelity does not have to be a reason to seek a divorce,” says Dorene A. Kuffer, Attorney & Counselor at Law, Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer. “Luckily, New Mexico was one of the states with the fewest dollars spent on Ashley Madison. Regardless, when one spouse learns of the other’s involvement in a website like Ashley Madison, it can be the motivating factor in deciding to get a divorce – whether the cheating was going on for a while or the spouse just recently learned of it from the news reports and leaks from Ashley Madison.”
“The attorneys are unavailable because there are so many people calling right now,” an employee of Manhattan-based divorce firm Yaniv and Associates told the Huffington Post when they reached out. “You’ll have to call back later.”
In Richmond, Virginia, attorney Van Smith, of Smith Strong PLC, and author of “Divorce and Custody in Virginia,” told WTVR that he was receiving as many as 10 calls a day from people wanting a divorce as a result of the Ashley Madison hack. Interestingly, he said that these callers can be divided into two groups.
“They are either part of this multi-year problem in their marriage and this is the final straw,” said Smith. “Or for another significant portion they had a relative good marriage and this came out nowhere and sideswiped them.”
This is also usually a slower time of the year for divorce lawyers, according to Smith, who said that since it’s the start of a new school year, parents don’t want their divorce to affect their children’s academics.
However, he hasn’t seen any decrease in business thanks to Ashley Madison.