The growing impact of technology on society has led to great cultural advances, along with a larger playing field when it comes to satisfying ones vices.
Online dating and cheating sites such as Tinder, Grindr, Ashley Madison, and even Facebook have opened up a Pandora’s box of means for spouses to have affairs. As technology continues to impact people’s lives, spouses have started using these sites as means to gather evidence for – and as grounds for – divorce in some states and countries.
Recent coverage from The Divorce Center started to hone in on the impact technology can have on divorce with their two-part February 2016 series, “How Technology Can Impact a Divorce Case.” It references a case in France in which a 45-year-old woman was judged as cheating on her husband of 18 years after sending messages and photographs to men she met on an Internet dating site. Although she never had physical contact with these men, the judge still granted the husband’s demand for a divorce, due to the wife’s “offensive” behavior.
Over the years we have seen online infidelity play an increasing role in divorce cases in the U.S. as well. It is important to note that in New York there are both ‘fault’ and ‘no fault’ grounds for divorce. But there are more and more instances of technology playing a role in the ultimate breakdown of the relationship.
In New York, domestic relations law DRL 170(7) defines the reasons – called grounds – a spouse may seek an action for divorce. One of these is no-fault divorce, in which the filing spouse shows that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken” for a period of at least six months. A fault-based divorce can be obtained in New York if one spouse proves cruel and inhumane treatment, abandonment for a period of at least one year, incarceration for at least three consecutive years, agreement of separation, or adultery.
On the ground of adultery, technology can still play a role in obtaining a divorce in New York. State law defines adultery as a spouse having sexual intercourse with a person who is not his or her spouse. One spouse must prove to the court with valid evidence that the other spouse’s adultery occurred. While having a Tinder profile is not grounds for a fault-based divorce, spouses who hire an investigator to prove adultery may look to online dating sites the philandering spouse is using when gathering evidence.
These recent cases and developments show just how rapidly technology is transforming the traditional landscape of fidelity. As these advances continue, spouses in divorce litigation will find technology playing a greater and greater role in their cases.