Is "sexting" adultery under divorce rules?

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With an increasing number of new mobile phone apps allowing us to connect and share flirtatious texts or images, it's no surprise that there have been a number of celebrity 'sexting' scandals in recent months.

Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video on their mobile phone, usually in a text message. It is not uncommon for one spouse to discover the other is engaging in this type of behaviour. Often social media is used, such as Facebook, for inappropriate messages to be exchanged, or of course text messages can be used. These are frequently discovered when the unsuspecting spouse opens up the other's tablet, Kindle or borrows their phone. It is sometimes the case that one of the children finds such messages which can cause even more upset and damage.

In the event that any of these revelations come to light, unless the offending spouse has had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex, such behaviour will not constitute adultery for the purposes of a divorce petition. It will still be possible to divorce, though, citing the fact of unreasonable behaviour. Such petitions usually comprise a list of four to six examples of behaviour one spouse has found to be unreasonable and intolerable to live with. Sending messages of a flirtatious or sexual nature to a third party would constitute unreasonable behaviour. The test is subjective, ie what any particular spouse finds unreasonable and intolerable to live with, but I think most people would find such behaviour in their spouses unreasonable!

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