More Attorneys Say Internet Pornography a Factor in Divorce

The connection between online pornography and divorce is a source of constant debate, reflecting the rapidly escalating numbers of pornography addiction in the U.S. and the climbing divorce rates. Researchers have compared the strength of pornography addiction to heroin addiction as they examine the impact of pornography on marriage, and more attorneys in recent surveys are agreeing that Internet pornography is a factor in several divorce cases.Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion, Patrick Fagan, calls pornography a family destroyer. Fagan’s research suggests that pornography is a factor in many cases of marital cheating, as well as a factor in more than half of the marriages that end in divorce.

Many national divorce lawyers are agreeing with Fagan, with a meeting survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showing that more than 60 percent agreed that Internet pornography was linked to higher rates of divorce. They also agree that the prolific spread of Internet pornography during the past few years is a factor. Representatives from the association have stated that less than a decade ago, pornography didn’t appear in divorce cases.

The chemical response at the brain level to pornography, say experts, may be similar to that of drugs like heroin or morphine. When people view pornography, their brain-level response may include a boost of endorphins or other feel-good chemicals that become addictive over time. The person will need more pornography as the addiction progresses to reach the same level of high – similar to how a person addicted to heroin might react.

When pornography in excess enters a marriage, the impact can occur on several levels. A partner may spend hours in front of the computer and neglect their spouse, their job or their children, causing an increase in family tension and stress. Unlike other addictions that might require traveling to acquire the substance or large amounts of money, pornography is readily available on the Internet at little or no cost. Additionally, the partner may feel their behavior is harmless or secret because of the anonymity the Internet can provide.

Attorneys site many causes for divorce related to the Internet, including meeting a new partner online or hooking up in repeated conversations online with past romantic partners. In some cases, the relationship can be hidden by the spouse using a separate email account and the entire relationship can come as a surprise to a partner. However, surveys suggest that email conversations and those conducted via text messages or online chats are becoming more utilized as courtroom evidence, and can be included in a case for divorce. The same is true for computer histories showing a person’s pornographic use.

While the no-fault divorce can enter the picture as marriages dissolve from Internet pornography or other online factors – referring to a divorce in which neither spouse is given direct blame – this type of case also means that alimony or asset distribution can also be affected significantly, says J. Lindsey Short, Jr., American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers president.

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