The latest game to hit the headlines, Fortnite, has become a global phenomenon, with a reported 125 million players across all platforms. But what impact does online gaming have on marriages? And does it really result in divorce? One divorce website’s number crunching, revealed that it had received 200 divorce petitions between January and September this year which cited addiction to online games, including Fortnite, as one of the reasons for divorce.
Further research is needed into why online gaming could be resulting in the breakdown of relationships. However, one possible theory, is that online games act as a medium for people with similar interests to “meet” each other in the virtual world and chat together, without the normal social constraints that come with talking to someone in the real world. It may, for example, be much easier to open up to someone whom you have never met and may be hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away, than someone in your family or friendship group.
For some, the next step could be to meet in person. This relationship could, in the end, result in divorce for one, or both, parties.
In addition to this, online gaming at an excessive level could indicate an addiction. This addiction could result in the gamer spending less and less time with their spouse, with the relationship suffering as a consequence. Moreover, if someone is suffering from a gaming addiction, they may be thinking about gaming even when they are not playing. This could lead to them being withdrawn and maybe even moody or irritable towards their spouse.
In order to get a divorce in England and Wales, it’s necessary to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down, giving one or more of five reasons:
Unreasonable behaviour is the most common ground for divorce in England and Wales. The petitioner (the person filing for the divorce petition) has to give at least one example of the unreasonable behaviour, if they want to rely on this ground.
There is no set list of what constitutes unreasonable behaviour. What one person may deem as unreasonable behaviour (like their spouse being out fishing all day, every day), another may not (the spouse may be happier that their other half is out from under their feet).
Whether online gaming would be seen as unreasonable behaviour by a judge, really depends on the individual circumstances of each divorce.
An experienced solicitor should be able to advise you on your particular circumstances.
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