Is an online affair considered to be adultery?

It has never been easier for people to connect and interact with others, and with the increased use of social media platforms and dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble, your partner could be sat next to you on the sofa whilst conducting a torrid virtual affair. Sexting, as it is colloquially referred to, occurs when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text image or video on their electronic device. But an online affair doesn’t have to include sexual advances, it can include much more mundane exchanges, too. So, is this behaviour actually considered “cheating” and is it the same as physical adultery? Read on for more information.

If you have a family law issue and you require legal advice to understand your options, contact specialist family law solicitor Vicki Rawlins. Vicki is a trusted and highly capable family lawyer and divorce solicitor and a Partner at the specialist family law firm, Stowe Family Law.

Is virtual infidelity considered as adultery?

Your gut reaction when you hear someone has been caught cheating online, is that it is a fundamental betrayal of trust. But there are many people who engage in such practices with no physical contact taking place who believe that their behaviour doesn’t constitute a real affair.

But online intimacy can seem very much like a physical fling, and do lasting harm to a relationship, leading to loss of trust, insecurity, anger, jealousy, separation, and divorce. However, in legal terms, adultery constitutes the act of having sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. This means that purely online relationships would not be considered adulterous.

Whilst engaging in cybersex or sexting may be considered as being acts of infidelity, it is not considered a valid reason to cite adultery for divorce. In this situation, before no-fault divorce was enacted, you would cite this as unreasonable behaviour in a divorce application. Now, you no longer need to provide a reason for divorce, and are therefore spared from having to set out upsetting details in your application.

Can I still cite an online affair as a reason for divorce?

You no longer need to give a reason for your divorce in the application, meaning the blame-game that typically came with having to provide reasons for the breakdown of the relationship no longer exists.

Can I still try to prove adultery in court?

Since no-fault divorce was enacted in April 2022, there is no longer any requirement to apportion blame in a divorce, prove adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Whilst citing the infidelity may seem like a vindication of the failure of the relationship, the divorce process is now far less painful and simpler as a result.


Is there an alternative reason to divorce other than no-fault if my partner has been unfaithful?

There is no requirement to give a specific reason for your divorce, because the one and only ground for divorce is the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”. Of course, adultery or some other form of infidelity may be the actual reason for the breakdown of the marriage. You just won’t be able to legally state this on the application, or in any court proceedings.

Can I add an infidelity clause to a prenuptial agreement?

In the UK, conduct such as adultery or infidelity is not usually a consideration that would affect financial settlement on divorce. However, there are some cases where conduct can sway the court, such as if a partner’s contribution to the marriage was particularly good or bad, then the court may feel it is unjust to disregard it.

While prenuptial agreements can be legally binding, a judge can decide to question its validity. An infidelity clause may seem like a good way to penalise an errant spouse, but a court may question whether the other party was coerced or in a bad place emotionally when they signed the agreement. At the time of writing, no court in England or Wales has upheld an infidelity clause in a prenuptial agreement.

Find The Best Divorce & Family Lawyers Near You

We independently review and list the top divorce lawyers and family solicitors in the towns and cities near you. 100% free.

Find The Top Family Lawyers Near You

Noticed an error on this page or something broken? If so, please email us at support[at]

The information on this website is to be considered a guide and is therefore not legal advice. You use this information with the understanding that Wiselaw does not accept liability for any direct or indirect losses as a result of anyone relying on or acting upon the information on this website. Whilst we endeavour to provide accurate information, Wiselaw does not accept liability for any errors or omissions on this website.