Porn Addiction and Divorce

Addiction is a big buzzword these days, and people can suffer from addictions to all sorts of things. The typical addictions that tend to spring to mind are generally drug or alcohol related – and there’s no doubt we see our fair share of those. But there are other, more modern, addictions that we’re seeing lately with more and more frequency, and among those is the porn addiction.

Now, I’m not a therapist, and I’m not here to debate the merits or demerits of a porn addiction, or to discuss whether it is actually a medical condition. I’ve heard both sides of the spectrum – that it is certainly an addiction, and, on the other side, that it can’t possibly have ramifications (like withdrawal) like an addiction to a substance, and therefore is not an addiction. Really, it doesn’t matter to me.

What matters is that porn can wreck marriages. A husband (or a wife, I suppose, though I’ve never seen or heard of a case where the wife was the one who had the addiction to pornographic materials) who watches too much porn can wreak havoc on a marriage, and can lead a couple towards divorce.

My husband has a porn addiction.

If your husband has an addiction to porn, you’re in a very difficult place. I can’t imagine the difficulties you must have faced over the years, and the issues that his dependence on porn has created.

The question is… What steps do you want to take at this point? For many couples for whom a porn addiction is a concern, there is often the intermediary step of working with a marriage counselor (or perhaps, for the sex or porn addicted spouse, a therapist that specifically deals with issues of that kind) to try to save the marriage first. Are you at the point where you’re thinking about saving the marriage, or are you ready to end it? There’s no right or wrong answer; with divorce, as in so many things, you really do have to think carefully about your decision and not rush hastily into anything.

If you’re ready to move forward with divorce, though, it’s a good time to schedule a one on one consultation with a divorce attorney, so you can get an idea of what your rights and entitlements are under Virginia law.

Is his porn addiction grounds for a fault based divorce?

No. Adultery, sodomy, and buggery are the sexual-based grounds for divorce in Virginia, and all of those are based upon the actual physical act of sex (oral, anal, or vaginal). Watching porn doesn’t include a physical act with a person who isn’t your spouse; it’s just watching. It may be gross or distasteful, and may affect your marital relations, but it’s not grounds for divorce in that way.

Perhaps you have other grounds for divorce though? The other grounds in Virginia include cruelty, apprehension of bodily hurt, desertion, abandonment, and felony conviction. For the most part, these don’t have anything to do with his porn addiction (unless, for example, it’s child porn, and he is found guilty of an associated felony charge for which he could serve a year ore more in prison), but he could have undertaken other actions that would fall under these categories.

Do I even want to use fault based grounds in my divorce?

That’s a different question entirely, and one that you’re probably best advised to discuss one on one with an attorney. After all, it’s highly case specific, and depends entirely on what your goals are. It’s a good idea to think through them, so that you can actually articulate what your goals are, and then discuss them with an attorney so you can come up with the best plan to achieve them.

Generally speaking, though, fault based divorces are expensive and time consuming. They may accomplish certain goals, but it depends on what they are and whether a fault based divorce is actually the best vehicle to achieve them. (LINK)

You’ll want to consider both fault and no fault divorces. In a no fault divorce, instead of using those specific grounds of divorce (adultery, sodomy, buggery, cruelty, apprehension of bodily hurt, desertion, abandonment, and felony conviction), you use your period of separation to constitute your grounds. In Virginia, to qualify for a no fault divorce, you have to be separated for a period of one year, unless you (1) have a signed separation agreement, AND (2) you don’t have minor children – then, you can get divorced after just six months of separation.

In a no fault divorce, you either go to court to have everything divided (after all, just because you don’t have fault based grounds or decide not to use them – usually, in an effort to save money and keep things as amicable as possible), or you sign a separation agreement. What’s a separation agreement? Click here to learn more.

A porn addiction is hurtful, and it’s understandable that it could lead to divorce. Whether your goal is to work through his addiction with marriage counseling, or whether you’re at the point where you’re ready to discuss your rights in Virginia divorce, the best thing you can do is make sure that you have the information at your disposal to make that decision. For more information, or to set up an appointment with one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.

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