Can virtual cheating be used to prove adultery?

It seems that one additional (and possibly unexpected) element to come out of the Coronavirus lockdown is ‘virtual cheating’.

For the majority of people locked down and working from home with their partners right now, it’s hard to imagine getting even a minute’s peace. Whilst human beings are social animals we also need our own personal space.

Amazingly even in lockdown people are still managing to cheat on their partners. The owners of website Illicit Encounters has reported seeing an 18% rise in activity from male members, and a 12% rise from female members since lockdown began. 74% of the new male accounts to the site have cited “boredom” as the reason for seeking out new lovers. 46% of female members say the coronavirus crisis had exposed the weakness of their relationship and made them realise they needed “fresh stimulus”.

Whilst it will no doubt be distressing to someone if they find messages, emails or evidence of phone/skype interactions between their spouse and another person, unfortunately such acts cannot be used to prove adultery.

The law on adultery has not caught up with modern times in many ways, therefore virtual cheating is certainly not covered under the legal definition. The injured party would therefore have to use unreasonable behaviour for their divorce petition instead of adultery and cite virtual cheating as one of the examples of unreasonable behaviour.

For anyone who believes their partner may be cheating on them, virtually or otherwise, it is best to speak to them in the first instance and see what they have to say. If the relationship cannot be rescued then our family solicitors can be on hand to give advice and support on the options available. Speak to us in confidence by calling 01473 617 317 for more information.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Suffolk Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email