Free consultations and case assessments are available by appointment. Off-hours and weekend appointments are available.

We are a texting firm. To hear back from a licensed attorney faster, text us.

Posted on August 24, 2023

Is Virtual Infidelity a Ground for Divorce in New York?

The way we communicate, socialize, and build relationships has been drastically transformed by technology. Virtual platforms and online interactions have complicated the common conception of infidelity. These technological evolutions also complicate previously more straightforward questions about infidelity within a marriage, what can be used against you in a divorce, and the potential legal consequences. This article explores whether virtual infidelity can be considered a valid reason for divorce in the State of New York.

Dealing with divorce and its intricacies, especially in relation to emerging issues like virtual infidelity, can be overwhelming. New York has specific statutes that govern divorce, making it crucial to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced New York divorce attorney. Manhattan divorce lawyer Richard Roman Shum can provide valuable assistance by offering insights into the legal framework surrounding virtual infidelity, assessing its relevance in your specific divorce case, and helping individuals understand their rights and available options. From gathering evidence to advocating for their clients’ interests, our team of New York divorce attorneys may be able to navigate the complexities of New York divorce law and offer personalized guidance tailored to each individual’s circumstances. Call the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum today at (646) 259-3416 to schedule a consultation.

Definition and Types of Virtual Infidelity

Virtual infidelity can be defined as engaging in emotionally or sexually intimate interactions via the internet, without the partner’s knowledge or consent, that violates the trust and boundaries of a committed relationship. The nature of these interactions can range from casual flirtations to deep emotional connections or explicit sexual conversations. Given the diverse nature of online interactions, virtual infidelity can take different forms:

  • Online flirting: This includes sending flirtatious messages, suggestive emojis, or engaging in playful banter with someone other than the partner. While seemingly innocuous, these interactions may lead to more intense emotional connections if unchecked.
  • Emotional affair: An emotional affair happens when one person forms a deep emotional connection with someone else, often sharing intimate thoughts, feelings, and secrets that are typically reserved for their committed partner.
  • Cybersex or sexting: This involves sending explicit sexual content, such as messages, images, or videos, to someone other than the partner. This is considered as a form of virtual infidelity because it breaches the boundaries of a committed relationship by engaging in sexually explicit conversations and fantasies with another person.
  • Online dating or hookup apps: Using these platforms to look for potential partners or engage in conversations with other users can be considered virtual infidelity, as it expresses a desire to explore relationships or encounters outside of the committed partnership.
Types of Virtual Infidelity Description
Online flirting Sending flirtatious messages, suggestive emojis, or engaging in playful banter with someone other than the partner
Emotional affair Forming a deep emotional connection with someone else, often sharing intimate thoughts, feelings, and secrets typically reserved for the committed partner
Cybersex or sexting Sending explicit sexual content, such as messages, images, or videos, to someone other than the partner
Online dating or hookup apps Using platforms to look for potential partners or engage in conversations with other users outside of the committed partnership

Common Reasons for Virtual Infidelity

The reasons for virtual infidelity may vary from person to person but some common factors include the following:

  • Access and anonymity: The internet provides an easily accessible platform for people to engage in secretive interactions without the fear of being caught.
  • Emotional dissatisfaction: A person may seek out online interactions due to feelings of emotional neglect or dissatisfaction in their current relationship.
  • Sexual dissatisfaction or exploration: A partner may use the internet to explore sexual fantasies or desires that they do not feel comfortable sharing with their partner or that they cannot fulfill within their current relationship.
  • Escapism: Virtual infidelity may serve as a temporary means of escape from the stress, monotony, or challenges faced in the real world.
  • Validation and self-esteem: Engaging in online affairs or flirtations can offer a sense of validation or boost one’s self-esteem, particularly if they feel undervalued or unappreciated in their relationship.

Psychological Impact of Virtual Infidelity on Relationships

Virtual infidelity can have serious consequences on relationships, particularly in terms of trust, security, and emotional connection. Some of the potential impacts include:

  • Betrayal and loss of trust: Discovering a partner’s involvement in online infidelity can lead to feelings of betrayal, resulting in the erosion of trust between partners, which can be difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild.
  • Guilt and shame: The partner engaging in virtual infidelity may experience feelings of guilt and shame for their actions, which can in turn impact their emotional well-being and ability to form genuine connections within their relationship.
  • Jealousy and insecurity: The offended partner may develop feelings of jealousy and insecurity, questioning their self-worth, attractiveness, and desirability.
  • Communication breakdown: Virtual infidelity can lead to a breakdown in open and honest communication between partners, affecting their ability to resolve issues and grow together as a couple.
  • Relationship dissatisfaction: The strain caused by virtual infidelity can lead to increased dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the relationship. In some cases, this may ultimately result in the end of the partnership.

In summary, virtual infidelity is a complex issue that can have significant consequences on relationships. Understanding the various types of virtual infidelity, the reasons behind it, and its psychological impact on a couple is crucial for maintaining trust, open communication, and emotional connection in today’s digitally connected world.

Manhattan divorce attorney

Virtual Infidelity as a Ground for Divorce in New York

In recent times, the usage of technology and social media platforms has transformed human relationships. One of the dark sides of this transformation is the prevalence of virtual infidelity, which has become a point of contention when it comes to divorce proceedings. As society and technology continue to evolve, how has virtual infidelity been treated by courts in New York State, particularly when it comes to divorce cases?

Is Virtual Infidelity Considered Adultery?

Given the prevalence of virtual infidelity, the first question that arises is whether it can be considered adultery under New York law. Adultery is defined as one spouse engaging in a voluntary sexual relationship with a person other than their spouse. In New York, adultery is one of the legal grounds for seeking a divorce.

Underestimating the magnitude of the repercussions stemming from an online affair would be a mistake, as virtual infidelity has the potential to cause substantial emotional distress and upheaval comparable to that of a physical affair. If you are considering seeking a divorce based on virtual infidelity, it is crucial to bear in mind the following points:

  • In New York, virtual infidelity is acknowledged as adultery under the law.
  • It is imperative to collect evidence that supports the existence of the affair.
  • The court will assess various factors to decide whether to grant a divorce on these grounds.

How Virtual Infidelity Could Factor into Divorce Cases

New York State introduced no-fault divorce in 2010, allowing couples to divorce under the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months. In no-fault divorce cases, spouses do not need to cite a specific reason, such as adultery, to end a marriage.

In these scenarios, instances of virtual infidelity could contribute to a case for demonstrating the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. It can be considered as evidence in divorce proceedings and may influence factors such as the division of assets or custody agreements.

Furthermore, if virtual infidelity leads to real-world adultery, then it could become grounds for an adultery-based divorce. In these cases, it would be essential to provide sufficient evidence that physical sexual relations occurred between the spouse and another person.

New York Adultery Laws

In accordance with the New York State Penal Law Section 255.17, an individual can be deemed legally responsible for the act of adultery if they partake in sexual intercourse with another individual at a time when either they or the other person are in a marital relationship with a living spouse.

In New York, engaging in adultery is considered a class B misdemeanor, which can result in potential consequences such as a maximum of three months’ incarceration, a year of probation, and a fine not exceeding $500.

Engaging in infidelity within a marriage is legally categorized as a crime in New York State. Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply that either you or your spouse will be immediately subject to imprisonment. Although adultery is technically defined as a criminal offense, it is generally not actively prosecuted within New York State. However, if you find yourself as the wronged individual due to your spouse’s extramarital affairs, this circumstance could potentially play to your benefit in the context of divorce cases. This is because it can have significant financial implications for matters like alimony arrangements and the equitable distribution of shared belongings and financial obligations.

Navigating the intricate landscape of New York’s adultery laws can be challenging, but with the help of a Manhattan divorce lawyer, you can secure the support you need. At the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, our lawyers are well-versed in the nuances of adultery cases, providing compassionate guidance and strategic counsel to protect your interests. Contact us to help you achieve a favorable resolution in your divorce case while upholding your rights and securing your future.

Impact of Virtual Infidelity on Divorce Outcomes

Virtual infidelity is the act of one partner engaging in a digital or online relationship outside of their current marriage or committed partnership. With the prevalence of social media, chat rooms, and dating apps, it is becoming increasingly common for couples to experience virtual infidelity within their relationships. While traditional notions of infidelity often involve physical relationships outside of marriage, virtual infidelity can also lead to the breakdown of trust between partners and contribute to the dissolution of a marriage. As such, it is also possible for virtual infidelity to impact

Division of Assets and Marital Property

In many divorce cases, a significant focus is on the division of assets and marital property, which can include real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts, and other assets accumulated during the marriage. In some jurisdictions, the division of assets can be heavily influenced by evidence of infidelity on the part of one spouse. However, virtual infidelity alone may not directly impact the division of assets in the same way that physical infidelity could.

Whether virtual infidelity will impact the division of assets depends largely on the specific laws of the jurisdiction in which the divorce is taking place. In New York, evidence of infidelity (including virtual infidelity) can be presented in court to support a claim for an unequal division of assets in cases where adultery is the grounds used to file a divorce. 

However, if the spouses decide to use no-fault grounds to file the divorce, the specific reasons for the divorce (such as virtual infidelity) may not directly impact the division of assets. In these cases, the judge may decide based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse, and the needs of each spouse moving forward.

Child Custody and Visitation Rights

Another critical aspect of divorce proceedings is the determination of child custody and visitation rights. While virtual infidelity may not directly impact the division of assets, it could play a role in a judge’s determination of the best interests of the child or children involved.

In cases where one spouse is engaging in virtual infidelity, the other spouse may argue that such behavior demonstrates a lack of judgment or poor character on the part of the unfaithful partner. Depending on the specific circumstances of each case, a judge may weigh this information when considering the child’s best interests and determining which parent should receive primary custody and how visitation rights should be allocated.

For virtual infidelity to have an impact on child custody and visitation rights, there will likely need to be evidence of a direct connection between the infidelity and the child’s best interests. For example, if it can be proven that one spouse exposed the child to inappropriate online content or neglected their parenting duties due to their online activities, this may be more likely to sway a judge’s decision.

Spousal Support and Alimony

Spousal support and alimony are financial payments made from one spouse to the other following a divorce. In some cases, these payments are intended to help the receiving spouse maintain a certain standard of living or to provide financial support while they transition to a post-divorce life.

In a fault-based divorce, evidence of virtual infidelity may be taken into account when determining the amount of support or alimony payments. The unfaithful spouse may be required to make higher payments to the wronged spouse as a form of restitution.

In a no-fault divorce, virtual infidelity may not directly impact spousal support or alimony. However, judges may still consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the income potential of each spouse, and the financial needs of each spouse when determining an appropriate amount of support or alimony.

Getting the Legal Help of an Experienced Manhattan Divorce Lawyer

When facing a situation involving virtual infidelity and contemplating a divorce in New York, seeking the guidance of a Manhattan divorce lawyer can be immensely beneficial. A skilled divorce attorney can provide essential legal counsel and representation throughout the divorce process, ensuring that your rights are protected and advocating for your best interests.

Attorney Richard Roman Shum and our team of experienced Manhattan divorce lawyers may be able to assess the circumstances surrounding your case, gather evidence if necessary, and effectively argue for your position during negotiations or court proceedings. Contact the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum today at (646) 259-3416 to learn more about how we can help.

Share This Article


Schedule a Free Consultation

More Related Articles