I admit that when I read yesterday that the online game Fortnite was responsible for 5% of divorces, I was pretty surprised. The news has been full of the addictive qualities of the game and suggestions as to how to keep your teenager from spending too much time playing it. However, the statistics from the US say that 35% of the online Fortnite gamers in the US are over 24 years old.
How does an online game become responsible for divorce?
As I described in last week’s blog, divorce papers in the UK require the person filing for divorce to accuse their spouse of desertion, adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Addictions are commonly cited as unreasonable behaviour, most often alcoholism or drug addiction. Since the beginning of the year Fortnite has been cited in 200 divorces of the 4,665 processed this year in the UK. Whilst this is not a huge percentage, it is significant enough to have made the news. I am sure that there must be other issues in the marriages in question prior to Fortnite entering the mix. However, Fortnite is obviously impacting some relationships to the extent that one spouse feels neglected.
If filing for divorce using adultery as the reason, you must name the person with whom your spouse has been adulterous. Therefore, it is more common to use the “catch all” of unreasonable behaviour. Citings can include violence, gambling debts, alcoholism, drug abuse or failure to look after the children of the marriage. However, it can also be used for more general behaviour that people can experience when a marriage is in trouble, such as not socialising with the petitioner, preferring to socialise alone with friends, refusing to discuss, acknowledge or try to resolve issues in the marriage. Any accusations must be true, specific to your own circumstances and have contributed to the breakdown of your own marriage.
No fault divorce will bring an end to these accusations being necessary, leaving the two parties to agree that the marriage is over and reconciliation is not an option. They can then get on with the important task of ensuring that the health and wellbeing of the children of the marriage can be made priority. I should note that there are circumstances where this is not possible, such as where violence is a problem. I am not ignoring or dismissing these, but I do think there are many occasions where safety is not an issue and things could be resolved amicably.