Can Virtual Infidelity Serve as a Basis for Real World Divorce?

January 20, 2020 | J. Benjamin Stevens | Share:

It’s often said that technology makes things easier for us. While this is usually a good thing, technology has also made it easier for spouses to engage in extramarital affairs. The constant access to cell phones, laptops, and a range of online match-making websites has made it incredibly easy for those who are interested in straying to do so.

Sadly, South Carolina family law attorneys have seen an increase in the number of cases dealing with virtual infidelity and witnessed how these cases of online cheating lead to the dissolution of marriages. While some online relationships can jump into the real world, there are many others that remain virtual, with individuals exchanging emails, chats, or video dates but never actually meeting in the flesh.

The question among some who have handled these cases is whether the virtual infidelity counts as a serious enough indiscretion to justify divorce. Experts generally agree that cyber relationsdo not qualify as adultery under most legal definitions. Typically, adultery is defined as intimate sexual activity outside of marriage. Though virtual infidelity is emotionally devastating and can destroy the trust that exists in many relationships, it typically does not meet the legal definition of adultery because there is no physical contact between parties.

However, even though it may not technically be adultery, it does not stop virtual infidelity from serving as the basis to end a marriage. Virtual infidelity not only undermines your spouse’s trust in you, but it can also serve as a slippery slope to other, real world acts of unfaithfulness. By opening the door to inappropriate contact with others online, it often becomes easier to engage in other inappropriate behaviors offline.

Source: “Is Cybersex Grounds for Divorce?,” by Andrew Feldstein, published

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Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina.  His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.

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