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Does digital infidelity muddy the waters for divorce?

In the past, cheating on a spouse was a clear-cut matter -- it either happened or did not. However, as technology keeps progressing into new territories throughout time, it also blurs and redefines many aspects of our lives, marriage included. Now, infidelity can exist beyond the physical realm and cross over into digital territory. This has caused some to pose a question for marriages impacted by such a situation -- does cyber sex constitute grounds for divorce?

As the internet and social networks such as Facebook continue to bleed into our everyday lives, cases of "virtual infidelity" are becoming more and more commonplace in family law. While e-discretions may not seem to have the same immediate gravity as a physical act, the consequences on a spouse's emotions are often the same. Because of this hurt and sense of betrayal, acts such as cyber sex can sometimes lead the other spouse to consider seeking divorce.

The divorce legal issues behind such a situation, when guided with legal advice from an attorney, can lead some to pursue a "no fault divorce." In cases of a no fault divorce, a spouse does not need to prove any fault of the partner. Instead, one must only state a reason for the dissolution that is recognized by the state, the most common of which being "irreconcilable differences." The other spouse cannot object to the petition for divorce because, in the eyes of the state, that alone is an irreconcilable difference. While all states acknowledge no fault divorces, some require the couple to have lived apart for a period of time, so a separation prior to the actual split may be necessary.

Cases of infidelity involving cyber sex and other acts online can muddy the legal waters when it comes to the end of a marriage. However, a legal professional can help spouses in these situations investigate options like a no fault divorce and prepare a plan of action.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is Cybersex Grounds for Divorce?," Andrew Feldstein, Jan. 8, 2014

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