Suspicious credit card charges, unusual late-night work commitments, and lipstick on shirt collars; they’re all classic telltale signs of an extramarital affair. But in this day and age, cheating has taken on a broader meaning. Modern technology has made it possible for people to connect with each other 24 hours a day via email, Facebook, Twitter, and text message. The internet is a virtual playground for adulterers. Even those who aren’t seeking to become involved in a romantic relationship may find themselves pulled into an inappropriate relationship with someone they met online. The recent scandal involving Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o and his “fake girlfriend” is a timely example of how an internet relationship can become very real and very destructive, even when the two parties involved have never met.

Considering how much our modern world revolves around virtual communication, it’s hard to imagine a time when the internet didn’t exist. But when Canada’s divorce legislation was drafted, internet cheating wasn’t even a remote consideration. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find an affair that didn’t involve some technological aspect, whether it be texting, emails, or video chatting. This begs the question: What exactly is included in the definition of “Adultery?”

Broadly, “Adultery” is defined as consensual sexual intercourse by a married person with someone other than his or her lawful spouse. Reflecting the evolution of our society, the definition has changed to include affairs in same-sex marriages, as well as same-sex affairs in heterosexual marriages.

Although emotional affairs can be just as destructive as physical affairs, the law does not (yet) recognize emotional or cyber cheating as sufficient cause to grant a divorce on the grounds of adultery. You can read more about getting divorced on the grounds of adultery here.

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