The Ashley Madison Case : What are the repercussions in Quebec?
Everybody is talking about the Ashley Madison scandal, the website that permitted married people in search of an affair to have access to a dating service online. Now that hackers have revealed the email addresses of 37 million users of Ashley Madison, people who have or had an account may be wondering if their spouse’s affair can have repercussion on their divorce under Quebec’s Family Law regime.
5 Things you Need to Know, If your Couple is Affected by this Scandal
1. Getting a divorce: A judge may, on application by either or both spouses, grant a divorce on the ground that there has been a breakdown of the marriage. In fact, article 8 (2) b) (1) of the Divorce Act, specifies that 1 way in which the breakdown of marriage is established is when a spouse has committed adultery. Consequently, the judge has the power to grant a divorce judgment between the parties in such cases.
2. No fault: People often think that, because their spouse cheated on them, they will get judgment in their favour for custody of the children, or they will get more than their share in the family property, as an example. The reality is that the province of Quebec has No-fault divorce laws. This means that the judge will not take into consideration the reasons why the couple is divorcing. Consequently, the judge will apply the law regardless of who committed adultery.
3. Protecting the family patrimony: However, there is a possibility that the court takes into consideration the fact that the spouse alienated or misappropriated an asset included in the family patrimony. For example, if your spouse gives his valuable car, used for family travel, to his mistress, the court may order that a compensatory payment may be made to the other spouse, for the reason that the said car was an asset included in the family patrimony.
4. Settlement: When people are divorcing for the reason that a spouse committed adultery, they usually won’t consider a settlement. But one thing we know as lawyers is that an adversarial process can cost a lot of money to our clients and we have an ethical obligation to put our clients’ interests before ours. Although, the parties are going through a rough and emotional period, it is better for both parties to reach an agreement in such circumstances, for the benefit of themselves and their children.
5. Confidentiality: Furthermore, Family Court matters are all confidential which means that the names of the parties are not public. Although the email addresses of people who had an Ashley Madison account were revealed by the hackers, here in Quebec, it is prohibited to reveal the names of the parties that are involved in a Family Court case. You can reassure yourself that, in the event that you do not reach an agreement with your spouse, a judgement would not reveal your identities to the public.
Consequently, it is important to consult with an attorney to discuss the options available to you in the eventuality of a divorce or separation. We invite you to contact us if you are caught up in a situation involving adultery, or are divorcing for other reasons.
Nadia Pola, Attorney-at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats inc.